As a result of the Affordable Care Act’s impact on the 2014 landscape, health plans are preparing their mandated documents such as the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) and Evidence of Coverage (EOC) earlier than usual. The ANOC/EOC is a critical component of your plan as it provides details about coverage, costs and more. This may sound simple enough, but this year insurance plans need to take into account more than just earlier timelines. As a result of the recent reform, 12 million new customers and 11 million small businesses will flood the insurance market in January. Many of these new consumers will come from households that are not only more culturally and linguistically diverse, but that have never had health insurance before.
Navigating the new health exchanges and healthcare system is challenging enough for seasoned professionals, let alone for someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language. And with October and the open enrollment period right around the corner, health plans will soon need to find new strategies to effectively communicate with their new and diverse customers. Bridging the language gap is essential to ensuring diverse communities enjoy equal access to healthcare, because true understanding happens when people can internalize the material in their native language. So whether it’s ANOC/EOC’s, SBC’s, or any of the other numerous communications your plan will soon be sending out, the key is to ensure that you are truly reaching your market in a meaningful, effective way.
Learn more about VIA’s ANOC/EOC translations and how your plan can save up to 20%.
It was great to see all of our customers and colleagues at DiversityRx this week. I’m always impressed with the deep passion and compassion of the individuals dedicated to reducing disparities and improving health literacy. There was an impressive line-up of speakers sharing information and insights. Topics ranged from the need for early development of cultural competencies in pre-college and Med school to the other end of the life continuum – understanding the needs of culturally diverse aging communities and ultimately, palliative care.
This year’s theme “Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations: Achieving Equity in an Era of Innovation and Health System Transformation” was explored in depth. Workshops focused on patient engagement, training and staff development, utilization of quality improvement tools, qualitative data analysis, improving access and care though collaboration and partnerships, the role of eHealth and technology, religious diversity, and recognizing our biases – conscious and unconscious. All topics had the over-arching goal of improving health literacy, access, satisfaction and outcomes for our culturally diverse communities.
The conference was rounded out with sessions addressing our dynamic era of transformation: advocacy, policy; initiatives from the HHS Office for Civil Rights, and opportunities for advancing equity afforded by the Affordable Care Act. There are too many topics to highlight here – I suggest you check out the DiversityRx web site for more information and to join the conversation.
It seems like it was just yesterday when we were in the midst of a national election and speculating if the Affordable Care Act was going to move forward as planned. Fast forward just three months to February and the Final Rule for Essential Health Benefits was issued. Expanded access through Medicaid expansion and Insurer Markets is a reality and open enrollment is approaching fast.
This expanded access will reach populations that haven’t previously had coverage, and the learning curve will be huge. I’ve lived in the healthcare system my entire career and I still find the flow charts explaining access to be a bit of a spaghetti diagram. And that’s just the start—once people determine their eligibility, they will need to make decisions about health plans, navigate enrollment forms, select providers, etc. This is an excellent opportunity not only to provide care, but also to provide education to new members on wellness, prevention and disease management. As the immigrant population will comprise a significant percentage of the newly eligible, providing these materials to consumers with limited English proficiency will be critical to improving the experience, outcomes and ultimately population health.
Health literacy is a big concern in our healthcare system affecting both escalating costs and outcomes. It is particularly prevalent among the elderly, and members of minority or ethnic groups who already face language and cultural barriers. A few things to keep in mind when creating and translating materials are: target 6th-8th grade literacy levels, write clearly in active voice, use short sentences, use clear headings, incorporate cultural nuances for LEP populations, and use graphics to help explain concepts. We also find that Q&A formats work well.
I firmly believe it’s up to all of us to simplify the increasing complexity of the health care system!
Want to learn more about health literacy and how to prepare your health plan for the changing healthcare marketplace? Download and watch our recent webinar, 2012 Health Plan Preparedness.