How Enhanced Direct Enrollment Provides the Kickoff to a Seamless Customer Experience

Open Enrollment is upon us once again! Beginning on November 1st (and through December 15), individuals can select or renew an individual exchange plan (on or off marketplace). For the millions of individuals in these plans, the experience is more like paying taxes than shopping for their favorite new gadget. Purchasing health insurance is usually cumbersome and frustrating. The decisions that need to be made are understandably complex based on balancing competing interests of cost, quality and access. But these decisions don’t have to be painful. Creating a frictionless shopping experience for customers should be a critical objective for health plans, especially if repeat customers are a priority. The federal government has enabled a key technical enhancement to the marketplaces called Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE). EDE changes the game and is shifting the paradigm for how insurance is bought. Smart companies will optimize the upside available from EDE for their customers.

What is Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE)?

When the Health Care Exchanges were first launched, the customer experience was far from ideal. Individuals shopping for plans on a health plan’s website were unable to complete a transaction for coverage without redirection to Healthcare.gov to first verify their eligibility. This led to confused customers as well as customers who were suddenly presented with new slates of options after having initially made a buying decision. In many cases, shoppers started over from scratch. In other cases, shoppers closed out of the process altogether in frustration, and either never went back or just went straight to Healthcare.gov when they felt finally ready to tackle the shopping experience. EDE allows health plans and web brokers to connect directly to the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. Individual customers can complete the entire purchase process and experience without ever having to leave a health plan’s web environment. Plan research, eligibility determinations, subsidy applications, pricing, and enrollment initiation can all be completed in one unified shopping experience. In addition, once enrolled, individuals will also be able to access all CMS notices within the same application.

How does EDE improve the Customer Experience?

You only get one chance to make a first impression. For someone looking to buy an individual health insurance plan for the first time, confusion is likely to be the defining emotional state. A research and purchase experience that is confusing, clunky, and includes a series of handoffs or disconnects compounds, rather than alleviates the frustration and anxiety. Layered on top of the fear of making a bad choice is the fact that the underlying products provides little inherent excitement or satisfaction. This is a product that everyone needs but would rather never have to use.

Health plans spend a great deal of money in customer acquisition every year before the open enrollment period. If they don’t leverage EDE, these health plans risk “leakage” every time a hard found potential customer is redirected to a federal site that is also prominently displaying competing products. Instead of finishing a purchase on the health plan’s website, they may start clicking around the government website and find dozens of additional options to entice them. In many cases, they may end up purchasing from another plan. This is marketing and advertising spend wasted. By leveraging EDE, the individual stays on the health plan website without having to go elsewhere to finish the process.

The EDE functionality is not just another widget or fancy add-on; it’s a key component to providing your current and prospective members with a seamless customer experience. Colibrium has been working with CMS to become a licensed EDE entity and approval is expected by October. Colibrium has done the leg work, development, and testing to ensure its product and processes meet CMS standards and offers seamless integration into existing enrollment products and workflows. Colibrium will continue to support the individual market with its products and consulting services to help health continue to improve the customer experience.