Open Enrollment & AEP Translations: Successful Multilingual Campaign

10/25/2022
Doctor works during Open Erollment

Open Enrollment is an annual period when United States citizens can sign up for new health insurance, modify their current plan, or cancel it altogether. Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)  usually takes place during the fall and it is a date to be remembered by those interested in applying for changes to their health coverage. 

Language services, such as translation and interpreting, become critical during this Open Enrollment season due to the diverse demographics of the United States and the percentage of low English proficiency (LEP) individuals. Healthcare organizations must provide these people with access to medical information in a language they can understand. This is especially true when they want to enroll in new coverage, change their plan, or find options that fit their medical preferences better.

But before we dive into open enrollment translations, let’s start at the beginning: what do we mean by open enrollment in health coverage?

Understanding Open Enrollment in Healthcare

As we mentioned earlier, Open Enrollment period is a once-a-year window of time in which each person can evaluate their health coverage options. It is done at the end of each year to generate coverage that is effective at the beginning of the following year for 12 months.

What’s the difference between annual enrollment and open enrollment?

If you want to make changes to your health coverage, you should pay attention to this date. You may be wondering if there is a difference between “annual enrollment period” (AEP) and “open enrollment period” (OEP). If you have insurance through your employer, it is during the annual enrollment period that changes can be made to your insurance. AEP runs from the start of November through mid-December, but it might depend on your employer.

Instead, open enrollment period applies to everyone who does not have employer-sponsored health insurance plans, people who are self-employed or those who have individual insurance. In the case of work health insurance, the Open Enrollment season is also an opportunity for employees to cancel and modify their employer-provided health plans. Open Enrollment period usually runs from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15, although some states may have later deadlines.

What types of health insurance are offered?

Open Enrollment covers most health coverage, including:

  • Medicare
  • Job-based health insurance
  • Individual health insurance (coverage each person purchases for themselves).

Most medical coverage uses some form of Open Enrollment that limits future enrollment at a certain time of the year, but there are some exceptions:

  • Medicaid: state health insurance does not limit enrollments to an Open Enrollment period. Anyone who has access to Medicaid can enroll at any time.
  • CHIP: the government’s Children’s Health Insurance Program also does not limit enrollment to a specific time.
  • Travel medical insurance: is not subject to Open Enrollment restrictions. Due to the short-term nature of travel insurance policies, they are not typically limited to a period of enrollment.
  • Short-term health insurance: Like travel insurance, short-term insurance is not regulated by the ACA and plans are available year-round in states that allow them.

Open Enrollment Translations

Requirements for open enrollment translations

Federal civil rights laws, such as the ACA and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, require healthcare organizations to provide individuals with low-English proficiency access to the information they need in their own language. Additionally, there are four fundamental requirements that any health coverage agency registered for more than one year under the ACA must meet:

  1. Every insurer must offer written and oral translation services based on the needs of the applicants. This service must be provided at no additional cost.
  2. Agencies must provide slogans on important documents (physical or digital) notifying customers that translation services are available. These slogans must appear in the top 15 languages according to the state(s) in which the insurer operates. 
  3. Each insurance provider must translate a certain amount of its web content into languages spoken by low-English-speaking communities that make up 10% of the population in each state. 
  4. All health plans must provide slogans on claims, resources, and summaries of coverage in any non-English language spoken by 10% or more of the population of any state they serve.

Annual enrollment period documentation

Annual Enrollment period documentation typically includes:

  • Evidence of Coverage
  • Summary of Benefits
  • Annual Notice of Change
  • Formulary enrollment application
  • Provider & pharmacy directory
  • Member communications

Translation of open enrollment & annual enrollment documents and marketing materials

Health insurance companies are moving with current times and shifting from the bare minimum in terms of requirements to putting up a full-funnel enrollment strategy to ensure equity and inclusion and keep relevant among their competitors. There are a few steps that you can follow to deliver a successful AEP & OEP multilingual campaign.

  1. Prepare your materials. Make sure you review all your client-facing materials and channels. Consider compulsory documentation (such as evidence of coverage, summary of benefits, annual notice of change), marketing & sales materials (such as marketing brochures, sales kits, welcome kits, guides), member communications, and don’t forget your digital assets (such as websites and social media).
  2. Leverage your linguistic assets. At Win & Winnow, we’ll make sure that a dedicated team assigned to you oversees the creation and regular maintenance of style guides, glossaries, and translation memories. These will help you optimize time and costs while keeping your brand identity.
  3. Set a plan with your Language Services Provider (LSP). At Win & Winnow, we say that our offer goes beyond services because we seek to provide comprehensive and customized solutions to your unique needs. Your AEP & OEP multilingual campaign may include translation, document management, editing, and proofreading. It may also require desktop publishing services for market-ready materials. Ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act may lead you to consider other services, like transcription, the use of captions, subtitles, or voice-over. And don’t forget instances that exceed written materials; over-the-phone interpreting (OPI) can come in handy when providing assistance to members.

The Importance of Language Services in Open Enrollment

Language services offered during Open Enrollment and Annual Enrollment provide insurance agencies and health plan providers with ways to overcome language barriers in the United States. As the country becomes more culturally and linguistically diverse, more and more people need to understand their health coverage situation in their own language— language services like translation, interpreting, and transcription, among others, are a solution to this problem.

At Win & Winnow, we understand the linguistic needs for accessing medical information and have almost 20 years of experience in providing medical translation services. If you are an insurer or a health plan provider considering open enrollment translations, contact us today for a free evaluation and quote. 

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Open Enrollment & AEP Translations: Successful Multilingual Campaign

10/25/2022
Doctor works during Open Erollment