Courtesy of Faneuil
Faneuil Inc. call center (Courtesy of Faneuil)

Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, will start enrollment on Nov. 1 with a new call center vendor.

Access Health CT hired Faneuil, Inc.  to take over as the new call center vendor. It’s previous vendors Maximus, which valued its contract with the exchange at $15 million over three-years, will be exiting in a few weeks, according to state officials.

The exchange paid Maximus $1.22 for every minute their representatives spent on the phone with a customer helping them navigate the Affordable Care Act. But James Michel, director of operations for Access Health CT, said that part of the contract has changed.

Instead of charging by the minute, Access Health CT will pay Faneuil a fixed amount for every customer who calls. Michel said that puts the pressure on Faneuil to be efficient when handling the calls.

“It ensures we’re paying for quality,” Michel told the Access Health CT board of directors Thursday.

There are also penalties if they fail to meet certain expected quality measurements, Michel said.

He said it also gives them a greater ability to budget. Under the Maximus, per-minute rate, it was near impossible for the exchange to budget for the expense.

A request for a copy of the contract was acknowledged by Access Health CT, which asked for a formal Freedom of Information request to be submitted to their legal department.

It took several months in 2014 for Access Health CT to agree to release its previous contract with Maximus. Access Health CT, over the objections of Maximus, finally relented after a Freedom of Information complaint from WNPR reporter Jeff Cohen.

Michel said he thinks Faneuil will be more effective than Maximus because all of the employees they are hiring are full-time, with full benefits and not temporary employees. There will be 350 employees handling calls from Connecticut customers during the open enrollment period, Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, 2017.

Faneuil also has better technology than Maximus, according to Michel.

He said if there’s a high call volume a customer will be able to know how much longer they have to wait to speak with a representative and if they prefer to wait off-line they don’t have to lose their place in line. Michel said the technology will call that person back when it’s their turn.

Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations for the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut, said there’s a need for “consistent training” of the call center representatives.

“We’ve noticed over the past few months there are a lot of new call center representatives,” Polun said.

Michel said they are transitioning away from Maximus employees handling calls and by next Monday Faneuil employees will be handling 100 percent of the calls to the center. As of today about 75 percent of the calls are being handled by Faneuil employees.

The Hampton, Va. based company received a $150,000 grant from the town of Bristol to open up its new call center on Valley Street. The company will have an opportunity to receive an additional $50,000 once the business hires 250 employees, according to the Bristol Press.

The company also operates health exchange call centers in California and Washington. 

The company was recently in the news because their offices in Bristol, which are still under construction, were evacuated and more than 30 employees were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.