Call Recording Could Have Helped in Health Exchange Policy Dispute
Recently, a call center employee anonymously told a TV station in Washington State about the difficulties faced by the local Washington Health Benefit Exchange.
The Washington Healthplanfinder Toll-free Customer Support Center had fallen behind on helping members of the public sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, while at the same time changing employee work conditions from an earlier contract by essentially forcing employees to work even if they were ill.
Under the new directive, employees had to give an unrealistic two-day notice to call in sick, according to the employee’s allegations. If true, that would be embarrassing – considering that the product the center promotes is health insurance, and the entire rollout of the Affordable Care Act is marred in controversy nationwide already.
“There are people that have been working sick to the bone and they’ve asked for the day off,” the employee told a local news agency. “They’ve said, ‘No, otherwise we’re going to have to let you go.’”
The employee also described the backlog of applications, saying, “We have so many untouched paper applications, it’s beyond ridiculous.”
Exchange management rejected the allegations, saying that employees “were asked to acknowledge a standard time and attendance policy that was previously provided during orientation this past summer,” local news reported. “Claims that employees are required to provide advance notice for sick time or that they will be let go due to using sick time are inaccurate."
Management at the exchange also cited recent improvements they made to the website and claimed that last month 20,000 paper applications were processed, and denied there was a backlog.
As of the first week of 2014, a notice was posted on the exchange website that the “Washington Healthplanfinder is online after a successful version 1.1 upgrade over the weekend.” The website also said there were applicants who had tried to sign up, but could not in 2013. And in October, the website reported a system error that “affected 8,000 applicants who previously applied for qualified health plans. This error caused some individuals to qualify for higher than expected tax credit amounts than allowed based on their income level or household size.”
No matter who is correct in the controversy, it fuels the fire over the rollout of health insurance options.
Looking back at the incident, this is a prime example of how an internal dispute could have been resolved early with the use of a call recording system. If there had been a recording of what was said by management about work rules to employees, and when it was said, employees would have had hard evidence regarding the policy changes and even their fairness. Mobile call recording into the center could have, for instance, captured an employee attempting to call in sick and being denied. Rather than turning the matter into a “he said, she said” debate, the problem could have been quickly addressed with call recording, and the employees would have been able to better safeguard themselves against abuse.
But the benefits offered by a call recording system do not have to relate to just controversies. Many topics are hard to understand, and having a clear, accurate record of what transpires helps both the workforce and management.
Management at the exchange is likely under enormous pressure to perform, given the Obama administration’s desire to improve the exchange rollout nationally, and – given its technical issues that resulted in decreased public service rates – it does not help that the exchange is in Washington State, home to many major tech companies such as Microsoft (News - Alert).
In the end, clarity is something essential in communications, and call recording is a great way to help achieve it.
Edited by Alisen Downey
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