Friday, July 20, 2012

NOVO 1 call center plans to hire hundreds in North Texas - Fort Worth Star Telegram

A Fort Worth company is preparing to cash in on the changes -- and confusion -- wrought by expansion of health insurance coverage under the controversial federal healthcare reforms.

On Thursday, NOVO 1 announced it plans to hire 600 workers: 300 at its Fort Worth call center in the Centreport office park just south of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, 100 in Denison and 200 in Holland, Mich.CEO Mary Murcott said two-thirds of the local hires are related to increased demand from insurance companies for licensed agents specializing in healthcare, as are about half of the new positions in Denison and Holland."Healthcare reform has created a lot bigger marketplace," Murcott told the Star-Telegram."This year will not see much change, but we are changing the tools we use and are getting ready for next year.""They're a mixed blessings," she said of the Obama administration's signature legislation, which critics call Obamacare, and which has become an emotional issue in the presidential contest. "A lot of complexity comes with choice. It's our job to bring down the level of complexity and make it easier for the consumer."Job opportunities range from licensed agents and customer service advisers to trainers and recruiters, the company said."We have year-round work opportunities for licensed insurance agents following open enrollment and are prepared to groom new employees for leadership positions within the company," Murcott said. NOVO 1 will cover the cost for a 40-hour course and the test to qualify a person be certified as a licensed agent in all 50 states."As a result, a new employee saves $6,100 in out-of-pocket expenses and is the owner of the license," she said.NOVO 1, which currently has 1,000 employees locally, was originally a call center unit of American Airlines but was spun off 27 years ago, spokesman Jack Wilkie said. Private equity firm Glencoe Capital acquired the firm from George Dalton in 2009, Wilkie said.Some of the new jobs will be full-time but temporary.Murcott said the company is expecting a crush of business during initial open enrollment periods, which would require peak staffing.Many of the additional jobs in Fort Worth are related to a new contract from a firm that has developed computer navigational tools to help NOVO 1's staff explain the differences between health insurance plans.Wilkie said NOVO 1 has demonstrated that it can compete with call centers in Asia, where wages are far lower, by resolving customer service issues in one call instead of several tries to a foreign center.The firm has 60 major clients and 150 smaller ones, providing inbound customer service and sales staff. They may deal with stranded motorists calling for roadside assistance or field calls to energy and retail companies, he said.Murcott said she is all too aware of the challenge dealing with calls stemming from new insurance plans, noting that customer service surveys rate the U.S. healthcare industry at the bottom of the pile along with cable companies, wireless and Internet providers and a number of airlines.Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718Twitter: @startelegram

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