When and How to Prepare for Open Enrollment Translations

  In the United States, the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for Health Insurance is about to begin again. It’s time to start thinking about this year’s enrollment kits.

Why are We Already Talking about Open Enrollment?

It may seem premature to begin discussing your language program for the upcoming Open Enrollment season. However, extensive planning and preparation are required for this critical yearly healthcare event to run smoothly. Start now and save time, minimize stress and cut costs.

What Is the Value of Translations?

It is tricky for native English speakers in the United States to understand the many healthcare plan options and choose the best one. However, it is significantly more challenging for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) or who have recently arrived in the country. It is challenging to plan and produce translations for each market. It gets much more complicated when you consider the actions healthcare insurers must take to comply with US legislation, rules, and suggested practices, not to mention the challenges of fulfilling rigorous Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) deadlines.

What Should You Do Right Now?

Many human resource departments and insurers are already planning and deciding on resource allocation, capacity, and human capital, among other things. Senior Management is selecting languages, required resources, the number of plans and kits, and more. They are formulating the project’s scope to understand the work involved and projecting the necessary expertise to do it quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively. If you haven’t already, an audit of last year’s activity is a great place to start. This quieter phase is ideal for reviewing what worked well last year and planning the materials, resources, and support needed to work on the project this year.    

Why Not Wait Until the Model Documents Arrive?

We’ve all been through it enough to know that the timeframe for CMS to release its final model documents is a little less time-sensitive than the tight deadline for Open Enrollment. Rather than cramming preparation and translation time while waiting for the final templates, consider what you can accomplish immediately. One easy way to do this is to get a head start by gathering and preparing the materials and assets from last year’s open enrollment, such as sales kits, enrollment forms, information guides, summaries of benefits, evidence of coverage, annual notices of change, translation memory, and glossary. The more content you can prepare in advance, the better, even if it is simply a question of reviewing materials to assess, which need simple changes versus a complete overhaul with a new translation.  There is more of a capacity planning and project management difficulty than a translation challenge at the heart of Open Enrollment translation. Success requires using technology, processes, and version control to ensure that all materials, including translations, are updated as needed, and your circumstances warrant. 

Why Not Begin with English?

The traditional method of handling Open Enrollment translation was to start with English before beginning translations. You would finalize the English text, examine and approve it internally, and get it validated by legal. Fortunately, we now have the systems, resources, and skills to deliver translated materials in tandem.

But Wouldn’t That Cost More if the Materials are Constantly Evolving?

That is a common misconception held by health insurance providers, yet prompt action combined with careful budgeting and cost control can lead to significant savings over time. Many of the documents we’re discussing are, after all, just variants on the same theme. Instead of translating a 400-page EOC from scratch every time, you’d be handling a single document with minor changes. It is easy to compare changes and manage versions with the correct tools and processes and the right technology. Leaving translations till the last minute also means paying more for a hurried job, being under more pressure, and increasing the likelihood of making mistakes.

What are the Potential Drawbacks of Procrastinating?

Doing things in haste increases the likelihood of making mistakes, so getting started early and staying organized are crucial. Many healthcare providers are hesitant to switch LSPs. Even if stress and potential missed deadlines are expected with each iteration of a new process, making a change can feel like taking a chance. One way to avoid this is not procrastinating and getting started early.   

How Can You Be Sure to Choose the Right LSP Partner?

Efficiency and precision are essential. Although many LSPs can translate healthcare materials, only a select few have the systems and experience to monitor projects and deadlines during Open Enrollment. Collaborating with an expert who can plan resources according to the timeline, document kinds, and workflow requirements is crucial.  If you want to stay ahead, begin planning early. That includes developing a clear strategy for everything from critical stakeholders to deliverable formats and establishing lines of communication between you and your LSP. You don’t want a hasty translation. The more and faster your LSP learns about your project scope, the more smoothly the project will run. Aim for complete openness, including direct access to internal document owners. Put translation at the forefront of your mind from the start of the Open Enrollment creation process. TTG assists insurers and healthcare providers increase member enrollment and lowering costs in non-English and limited-English proficient target areas through tailored language services. Contact us today for personalized guidance or assistance.

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