August 19, 2020

Common Questions About Open Enrollment

By Accolade

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Time may feel like it’s losing all meaning this year, but there are still milestones on the calendar that you can depend on. For instance, fall is coming, and that means it once again will soon be open enrollment season.

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing in the U.S., HR teams can be sure of one thing in these uncertain times: employees are going to have a lot of questions about what health plan is right for them.

We asked Brian Mahoney, a leader on Accolade’s clinical support team and a nurse with 20 years of experience, to detail the open enrollment questions his team answers most frequently and how they support members in better understanding how to choose the right healthcare plan for their needs.

Here’s what members are starting to ask Accolade as we approach open enrollment season.

What are my health plan options this year?

Accolade Health Assistants understand the plans that are available to our members. And more than that, they know how to ask the right questions to understand every member’s needs and priorities. This allows Accolade to help those members better understand the plan options available and select a plan that’s best suited to their situation.

Did my open enrollment registration form submit correctly?

It seems like a simple thing, but these kinds of logistical questions can really hang over people’s heads during open enrollment. Whether employees are unsure they’re visiting the right website or waiting around for a confirmation email that, depending on the benefits administration provider, may never come, that uncertainty is a real source of anxiety for folks. Our team helps members connect the dots, get the answers people need about their health plan, and give them one less thing to worry about.

Which of my open enrollment options lets me keep my current doctor?

This is a leading question every year, especially for employers who are switching providers or otherwise making significant changes to the plans they offer. Whether it’s a trusted family physician or a specialist who’s the best fit for a patient’s needs, people want to make sure they can keep visiting the doctors they’re accustomed to. Thanks to new tools we introduced this summer, our Accolade Health Assistants are even better equipped than ever to help members answer this question. These tools allow us to efficiently determine whether a member’s physicians will remain in-network under a given plan and, if necessary, what other plan options will allow them to keep seeing a doctor they already know and trust.

We can also help members understand alternatives like telemedicine options that can save time and money and allow them to avoid sitting in a waiting room. Many members want to keep the care that’s familiar to them, and we’re always happy to provide that guidance. But we also look to introduce them to new options, or existing ones they’re not aware of, so that we can help them make more cost-effective and efficient use of their benefits and have the best healthcare experience possible.

For members who are looking for a new doctor, Accolade’s provider search tools lets us help identify physicians who represent the best matches based on a number of key factors, including deep experience in the specific procedure being searched. These matches are based on analysis of billions of claims and other rich data sets.

What does hospitalization coverage look like under my open enrollment options?

This is a question we’re getting more and more frequently, unfortunately. With COVID-19 still surging in many areas and threatening to overlap with flu season in the coming months, many members want to know how each of their open enrollment options works if they or a family member needs care in a hospital setting. Our rich data platform allows our frontline care teams to quickly inform members how hospitalization coverage will work for them, including estimates of their specific out-of-pocket costs based on their actual situations.

My open enrollment period closes next week and I don’t know what to do. HELP!

This one we get a lot. We’re dedicated to supporting every member to help them make the best health plan decision for their family, whether their open enrollment period closes in 60 days or 60 hours. That said, we’re providing guidance for members, not picking their plan, and that guidance is most valuable when members can reflect on it, talk it over with their families, and even contact us again if they find they have lingering questions.

All of that takes time, which means the earlier in the process members come to us, the more effectively we’re able to assist them. That’s why we want to communicate to HR teams as early in the process as possible that their people should ‘Ask Accolade’ what plan is right for them this open enrollment season.