Call Centers to Play Large Part in Online Health Insurance Marketplaces

by Patrick Riley 03 Sep 2013
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There has been much focus, and rightly so, on the health IT infrastructure and the data-hub being constructed to connect state insurance marketplaces with federal agencies for the process of vetting eligibility and enrollment starting October 1. But, some states are realizing that quite possibly, the way to successfully signing up people without health insurance might be easier with giving these same folks a "life-line", that is, a way to call somebody, somewhere who can help explain everything.

Vermont has 45,000 uninsured residents they are hoping to attract to their state run exchange. Connecticut has 344,000. And Washington state is focusing on 1 million state customers who do not currently have any health insurance. Each of these states are launching call-centers today (September 3rd) to help people navigate through the health insurance marketplace in less than a month.

California and Maryland also run their own insurance marketplace and have already opened their call-centers and are fielding calls in an attempt to educate, inform, and hopefully persuade callers to take advantage of the soon to be live health insurance marketplaces. Health and Human Services (HHS) alread has its own call-center up and running (1-800-318-2596) taking calls.

Vermont is launching with 70 call-center "navigators" backed with a $2 million dollar advertising campaign using TV, radio, and print advertising to enlighten state residents about Vermont Health Connect and who can use it. Customer support manager Kelly Barnier says her phone team can expect very basic and fundamental questions, like "What is the exchange?" and "Do I qualify for subsidies?"

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 1,500 California residents found that very few knew what to expect on October 1st, and the majority of those surveyed believe the Affordable Care Act was repealed.

You can follow my continued discussion and dialogue concerning the health insurance marketplaces at @Patrick_FrostHC and follow my daily posts on

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