Friday, September 27, 2013

Explaining the Open Enrollment Process: Step 1

There are lots of innovative and not so innovative ways that many of us are trying to explain the steps involved in open enrollment (starting just a few days from now).  
Complicated language with complicated visuals; 
Complicated language with simpler visuals; 
Simplified language with schematic visuals: 
You get the idea.  
We're all burrowing, more or less, in the same holes, trying, trying…. 

I first started looking at how consumers with low literacy, or low financial literacy approached choosing a Medicaid Health Plan in the early ‘90s. 

What did I learned then that I'm using now? 
I learned a lesson that Steve Jobs knew better and stated far more simply and elegantly:  

“When our tools don’t work, we tend to blame ourselves. When our tools are broken we feel broken. And when somebody fixes one, we feel a tiny bit more whole” 

(My good friend, Penny Lane, Director for the Center for Health Literacy at MAXIMUS INC. reminded me of this Jobs statement in a speech she gave yesterday at the PlainTalk in Complex Times conference in DC).

When consumers had clearer ideas of how to prepare for decision-making, when they knew more about what they needed to make the decision about health plan choices, they were more confident, more focused, and more capable.

So, even if the health plan choice tools can't be fixed right away, how can we help prepare the consumer to deal with the enrollment process.

Here's's effort to consolidate to 4 simple consumer steps:  

Suggestion #1 in the countdown to open enrollment
(this is after people understand that what open enrollment is)

Have you developed or come across "readiness" information that you could share. 
I'd be happy to post/share ideas here. 


  1. I found this on twitter, its a guide to the enrollment process. What you need to know for Tuesday with regards to Obamacare. The language used is simple so those with low health literacy can understand it.

  2. It's clear that NYC has lagged in making the open enrollment process easily accessible and understandable for the public at large. In theory the process begins tomorrow, if the Senate is successful in stopping the Republican House from essentially shutting down the government based on the unrelated assumption that the budget and full implementation of the new Health Care policy are intertwined in such a way that America would not be able to pay its bills.

    This very public spat that seems to be the norm every time a new budget is about to go into effect, is in my opinion doing harm to the new policy before it even gets off the ground. Once all this noise and sabre-rattling about government shut downs comes to a close, perhaps a more concerted effort could made to make this transition as easily and as painless as possible for the American Public.

    What I think is important from the get go is informing the public that they have the ability to go over their full set of options without having to commit to any one. The rhetoric from those opposing the bill glosses over this fact completely, with scare tactics involving America becoming a Socialist State etc. As far as readiness, I think its important that those marketing the changes be unified as much as possible. We need one destination to go to for enrollment, with clear, concise and easy to interpret instructions. Much emphasis needs to be placed on the ease of transition and the ability to make an intelligent choice based on the options at hand.

    I'm of the strong opinion that the plan needs a "face" or some form of recognizable marketing gimmick that is soothing and easily recognizable. Slap that clever piece of marketing on the side of a mobile truck and drive it into a neighborhood on the lower end of the SES ladder and make the plan accessible to those who don't have easy internet access. Park the thing in front of hospitals and health care clinics and harass people as they are going in and out, in the nicest way possible. Even of they don't sign up right there on the spot, you can at least get the public aware of the plan and hipefull get them ready to make an informed decision.

  3. As the time approaches, people are still confused, misled and unaware about the Affordable Care Act. Recently, I got to understood the act but the enrollment process is a hassle.

    Last Thursday I was watching channel 1 news and there was a forum about the Obama-care and the Market Exchange and community members simplifying and giving examples about the act. After viewing this I was puzzled in the calculation process and how would this assist anyone in the public.Instead we need information about the process. In my community we need to address the enrollment process to get the information out and have public health workers stationed in front of fast food restaurants, subway, retail chains as Duane Reade, Walgreen and CVS and many more to inform and answer any questions or doubts individuals may have about the healthcare.

    The information need to pushed and driven to neighborhoods and communities that have no idea or means to obtain and gather the necessary perceptions about the act. We need to be proactive in the process and encourage others to be part because many are uninsured or under-insured in these areas. At least just having people be aware and informed about the act is huge start in decision making.

    Also site as this and the call center at 1-855-355-5777 are helpful to further clarify any misconception about Obama-care.

  4. It's clear that the lack of information on how the market place will work is tactic by those who do not want it move forward. More than anything the information about all the reasons that it should not exist has been by far the most popular. As an informed educated person I had to do my own research to gain further knowledge on what exactly would be taking place and decided whether or not it would benefit me. I also received information about it from my union insurance. But the bigger problem is how many of the people who are actually going to benefit from this service have the tools and literacy to look up and comprehend what is about to be for some life(health) changing. Right now the government is shut down and that is just a big "I do not care about your health" from those who opposed the bill

  5. Today, Eyewitness News dedicated a whole 1/2 on their broadcast on the step by step process on how someone could go about purchasing health insurance for themselves and their family. They also explained how they could go about choosing the best health plan that could provide the best possible benefit for their overall health.
    However, it is clear that New York has not done enough promotion to ensure that the public has a clear understanding on how they should go about picking insurance and making sure that we the people have the necessary information and tools that could help us understand the whole process.
    It is Unfortunate that the government shut down today because, some oppose Obama care. This sends a clear message that the government is unconcern with the health of all Americans. They are more concerned with their own agenda's that they have missed the whole point entirely which is ensuring the best medical care to all Americans. I thought that we are all Americans here. And that we all should have access to the best quality of care. Although it is a proven fact that many low income communities are simple unaware or don't understand the enrollment process as a whole. The government has done away with this bill before it has actually got a chance to take off.
    In my personal experience in working with a non- profit organization Community Healthcare Network that outreach is keep to reaching these population that are out of reach. Mobile vans need to be posted and parked within these low income communities as well as workshops being held in order to get the message out and help the public transition into the enrollment process.