In the future, will managers of HealthCare.gov spend enough on marketing and sales support to keep consumers going in through the digital, or brick-and-mortar, door?
Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) talk a little about sales, marketing and consumer assistance support issues in a big new 2017 “parameters” document.
The document, which is on track to appear in the Federal Register on March 8, sets the rules for how many Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) programs and rules, including HealthCare.gov, will work in 2017.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) set up HealthCare.gov to provide exchange enrollment and administration services in states that are unable or unwilling to handle those jobs themselves.
Starting in 2018, CMS, an arm of HHS, wants HealthCare.gov navigators, or nonprofit, grant-funded exchange ombudsmen programs, to offer enrollees post-enrollment assistance, as well as help them understand the enrollment process.
Last fall, when CMS published a draft of the 2017 parameters document, it suggested that states that thought of themselves as running state-based exchanges, but using HealthCare.gov to administer enrollment, should pay HealthCare.gov 3 percent of the premium revenue, to cover the cost of HealthCare.gov computers, call centers and other systems.
CMS suggested that the exchanges could keep 0.5 percent of the premium revenue for marketing, outreach and consumer support efforts.
Many exchange system players interpreted that proposal to mean that CMS managers think a typical exchange should have a sales, marketing and advertising budget equal to only about 0.5 percent of premium revenue.
Exchange managers and nonprofit exchange plan helpers seemed to react to that similarly to the way health insurance agents and brokers react to insurer announcements of producer commission cuts.
Mila Kofman, executive director of the District of Columbia Health Benefit Exchange Authority, wrote to encourage HealthCare.gov managers to budget enough to target hard-to-reach populations, such as uninsured people ages 26 to 34.