Hard at work on HealthCare.gov
I’ve always been a bit skeptical of the words “new and improved.” Soon those words may be used to describe the Affordable Care Act’s official enrollment website, HealthCare.gov.
With the clock ticking on the 2015 enrollment opening date of Nov. 15, the Obama administration is working to give the site a makeover. That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that the site will be revamped on the user end as well as the “back end.”
HealthCare.gov is the federal insurance marketplace serving the 36 states that opted not to create their own health plan exchanges. Officials said they hoped that revamping the site would eliminate the problems that plagued the launch of the website in October 2013.
Changes on the front end will include improvements to the portion of the website that allows consumers to apply for coverage and compare plans. Among users’ biggest complaints about navigating HealthCare.gov was that the site required them to enter their personal data before allowing them to access information about coverage and plans. Officials said that the revamped website will allow users to shop for coverage without first having to create an account and enter their information. Another goal for the improved website is to replace the system that enabled consumers to create an online account. This is supposed to eliminate a major problem in the HealthCare.gov rollout, when the website froze and locked out consumers as they attempted to create their online accounts.
The improved site also is expected to be optimized for mobile devices and will run on Amazon.com’s cloud computing system. It will also include a new tool to direct households with complex situations, such as multiple families living in one house, to a different part of the website.
On the back end, federal officials are also offering cloud services to insurers that participate in the program. They would be used as part of the system that generates payments that blunt the costs associated with enrolling sicker consumers, a key aspect of the law.
But none of these website changes will be any good unless they actually work the way in which they were intended. That will be the challenge as the next open enrollment season approaches.