The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) can be a stressful time for health insurance providers to finish making all the necessary changes to their documentation and other member communication. The deadlines given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) aren’t flexible, so submitting everything on time becomes the priority. However, with something as crucial as accurate translations, your language solutions cannot be an afterthought and your translation vendor should be a part of your strategic planning early on. It’s essential to “pre-translate” model documents and PBP (plan benefit package, also known as grids) in June before the English files are finalized. There are constant changes to the English files and therefore a big opportunity to make mistakes. Even the CMS makes changes that everyone must incorporate. Our experience in version management is what sets us apart.  

Although last-minute changes can occur, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks associated with last minute adjustments and reduce stress early in the process. Let’s start by considering the role of version management and how you can implement it.

What is Version Management?

If you’ve ever had multiple team members working on different parts of the same project, you know that keeping the core materials current can be a challenge. As one person works on one piece, and another person works on the second, is the document updated accurately? Are we tracking every individual change by each contributor and preventing parallel work from conflicting? Are they both working on copies of a document that needs to be centralized later? Translating AEP documents requires efficiency. The project manager and the team have to start with the same document. Some translators will need input from a part of the document assigned to someone else as they progress. This is why we employ a version management system. It ensures that team members can access the updated versions of source or translated documents without causing unnecessary duplication. Once the work is done, the proofreader will only worry about one document rather than sifting through numerous duplicates.

If the CMS sends an edit to the model documents or a benefit amount that needs to be implemented across 30, 100, or 500 versions of an EOC that has already been translated, then version management is critical to make sure the most up to date version is being worked on and delivered. 

What Are the Risks of Last-Minute Changes? 

  • They lead to delays in the final output, putting you at risk of missing the CMS deadline.
  • A rushed job can affect the quality of the resulting document, which can have legal ramifications if they are not up to CMS  standards.
  • Last-minute changes also affect version control. Translation vendors must implement file naming conventions and time stamps to every single file. Version control must begin at the project start and is a perpetual activity along the production life-cycle of a file that is being translated. In the absence of an effective version management system, last-minute changes will affect the quality of work. Without the correct version of the source document, the final product will not meet the required standards. It’s key to have a proven vendor experienced with managing last-minute changes while still meeting the unmoving deadlines.

 

How to Manage Last-Minute Changes

Changes brought about by new regulations or unforeseen CMS updates are inevitable. The best way to mitigate this is to incorporate a time allowance for unforeseen edits. One approach is to institute strict early internal deadlines that will give you time to finalize the source documents without affecting the AEP deadline.

  • Start with the documents you have: Last-minute changes should not result in a complete overhaul when they do happen. AEP materials include a large volume of documentation, such as Summary of Benefits, Annual Notices of Change and Evidences or Coverage, that it would be cumbersome to have to start over each time there is a change. For that reason, it is prudent to provide your vendor with a working document to begin early. That way, when the final edits are made available, the work is already in progress.
  • Choose a vendor well-versed with medical/health plan terminology: The contents of AEP documents are technical, but only change marginally from one year to the next. An experienced vendor understands the language used in these documents and can effect changes with the highest degree of accuracy.
  • Communication: Ensure your vendor is informed of any changes as soon as you become aware of them rather than waiting for the next update meeting.
  • Involve your vendor in the planning process: You have a symbiotic relationship with your language services vendor. Your vendor will advise you on which documents are most urgent from a translation standpoint and work with you to develop a streamlined  process to ensure you meet the deadline. Your translation vendor must have the ability to work with any of your other vendors to parallel project path both the English and non-English versions of your documents. 

 

At CQ fluency, we understand the importance of version management and its role in quality assurance. Last-minute changes are to be expected each year, and should be prepared for appropriately to avoid disrupting your AEP document submissions. Let us help you form a plan to prepare and finalize your document translations this year! Start the process by contacting us now.