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It’s that time of year again. Nope, not the holidays or even the election…it’s open enrollment season. And, in health care, this is a pretty major annual event. So, we decided to learn more about consumer opinion on the subject. We surveyed more than 1,000 people across the U.S. with national firm, Hanover Research, to better understand how open enrollment impacts health care consumers.

Here are a few of the big takeaways from the survey:

  1. Most consumers understand and have participated in open enrollment.

We know that health care literacy is low overall and that many topics related to health care remain a mystery to many. However, it looks like that’s not the case when it comes to open enrollment. Our survey found that the majority (81%) of consumers can correctly define open enrollment and more than three quarters (77%) have participated in open enrollment.

  1. There are several sources of information consumers use during open enrollment, but they still want more.

Consumers use a variety of resources during the open enrollment period, including online sources of information (38%), employer HR department (34%) and brochures (30%). Even with all these resources for information, consumers still want more. In fact, nearly half (49%) of reported that they want more information from their insurers about the options that they offer.

  1. Consumers find information about the key dates of open enrollment most helpful.

When it comes to which tools are most useful during open enrollment for consumers, the answer is a pretty simple one: reminders and announcements about dates and deadlines. When asked how helpful specific tools were during open enrollment, reminders to complete enrollment by the deadline (52% of respondents) and emails announcing the upcoming enrollment period (48% of respondents) were cited as most helpful.

What can health plans do to up their game and help consumers during open enrollment?

Keep your information sources diverse. Among the members who plan to participate in open enrollment for 2019, only about half (51%) intend to stay with their current insurer. Help guide and nurture the members who might consider leaving your health plan by keeping your sources of information clear, accurate and diverse. Highlight reminders throughout your website, email communications, and elsewhere (automated phone/hold messaging, medical benefits statement reminders, etc.) to help as many of your members as possible get the information they need to make the best health care decision possible for themselves and their family for the year ahead.

Maximize automated reminders. Automated reminders are the most helpful and frequently used resources for consumers during open enrollment, cited as helpful by 52% of our survey respondents. Maximize these reminders as a way to spread awareness of all the tools and resources you have available for members, while helping them stay on track with the timeline and deadlines for open enrollment.

Leverage open enrollment to increase health care literacy while reducing stress. The majority of respondents found that reading about health care benefits is overwhelming, while at the same time report that open enrollment is the time of year they spend the most time learning about health care benefits. Make open enrollment less stressful for members and increase health care literacy by simplifying the content of your health benefits information resources and offering useful tool tips and informational call-outs throughout your materials.

Interested in learning more about how you can partner with HealthSparq to offer your members more useful tools to use during their health care journey? Get in touch today!