Healthcare reform and call centers

President Obama will be signing the new healthcare reform bill into law on Tuesday.  Agree with the new legislation or not, this massive reform bill will have a major impact on most individuals and companies.  As I scanned through the legislation, news articles, and opinion pieces, I considered what impact these reforms could have in the contact center industry (think of the impact of HIPAA or PCI and multiply it by a LARGE number).  Some provisions of the law kick in right away while others don’t have to be in place until 2014, so some of these impacts will be felt right away while others have a few years to develop:
  • People and businesses have ALOT of questions – and they are going to start calling now and into the future to get them answered.  I’m guessing insurance companies, hospitals, and others are updating their IVRs as we speak – "For questions about how the new healthcare law impacts your insurance, press 1".  How do you plan for this spike in inbound load?
  • Insurance companies are going to have to make massive changes to their call centers and business processes to deal with the new laws.
  • The federal government is going to become much more involved in healthcare and have to add even more bureaucracy including more call centers.
  • State governments, already hurting financially in many cases, are going to have to build additional services infrastructure, including call centers, to handle the new load.
  • The estimated 30 million uninsured people are going to start calling insurance companies as well as state and federal governments.
  • The 30 million uninsured people include illegal aliens – so the demand for call center capabilities in other languages, primarily spanish, will increase.
  • Hospitals and other service providers are going to have to rethink and change their processes and call centers to handle new requirements.
  • Opportunities for new services will abound including IVRs for signing up for insurance, call centers to answer questions, automated systems and call centers to verify coverage specifics, etc.
  • New businesses with call centers will pop up focused on the "insurance exchange" concept in the new law allowing smaller businesses to pool their buying power with others.
  • CaaS services will be desirable for transition services – e.g. IVRs with massive port requirements and speech services for 12 month insurance sign-up windows.
  • The move to electronic document management systems – truly going paperless – will enable some insurers, providers, and others to differentiate themselves in handling the load.

And these are only a few examples.  What other needs and demands can you see coming based on this massive new legislation?

– Matt Taylor