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Indian 24x7 BPOs' Seek big opportunity from U.S.A.

As US President Barack Obama's new health insurance plan takes effect this month, Indian Inbound Call Centers handling customer care for insurers there are expecting a big boost in business.

These 24 x 7 Call Center are betting on confused customers jamming phone lines and cluttering inboxes seeking clarity on what kind of health coverage they are eligible for, what they need to do to sign up and how much it will cost them.

The landmark overhaul nicknamed Obamacare, which brings an additional 30 million Americans into the health insurance net, is already being targeted by Indian IT services companies, such as Cognizant, Infosys, HCL Technologies and Wipro, who are vying to build parts of the technology backbone of online health exchanges that link customers to insurance plans. 

The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the call centres will receive 42 million calls about the federal marketplaces this year—a daily average of up to 200,000—plus answer 2,400 letters and 740 e-mails, and host 500 web chats daily.

The US government has already awarded a $28-million, one-year contract to Vangent, a unit of General Dynamics, to handle consumer questions. The call centers in India scent an additional business opportunity as well.

"US healthcare reform will mean incremental business because consumers will want to know how they are affected. It is still early though; the industry is waiting and watching," said Sandeep Aggarwal, chief marketing officer at Serco Global Services. The Indian BPO industry had revenues of $18 billion (Rs 1.1 lakh crore) in the last fiscal year, with US clients contributing more than half of the business.

"The federal government stimulus lead by President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is driving major growth in the market," Jennifer Mazzucca, senior research analyst at Gartner said in an email. "We expect major growth in business to consumer services offering opportunities for ICT (information and communication technology) firms as payer organisations are working to keep up with the technology demands driven from healthcare reform."

Mazzucca added the US healthcare payer market is expected to grow by 6.05% to reach $ 17.9 billion in 2013. Business process outsourcing with a growth rate of 9.8% and expected market size of $ 1.66 billion will show the strongest growth in 2013. There is a precedent to a new law boosting business for BPOs.