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HealthCare​.gov – New And Improved? Time Will Tell

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With a little more than a month to go before the start of the 2015 open enrollment season, officials began testing the federal health care exchange website, www​.HealthCare​.gov. So what’s new with the site?

For one thing, the application will be much shorter than it was in the previous sign-up season. For another, consumers will be able to apply for coverage using their smartphones. Beyond that, officials aren’t predicting much more.

Maybe it’s because no one wants to appear overconfident after the disastrous rollout of the online sign-up system last year.

Some other changes that will be seen when the system goes live on Nov. 15:

- Identifying information will have to be entered only once – at the beginning of the application process. The information will be remembered by the system. Under the previous system, applicants often had to re-enter their information numerous times before they completed the process.

- The only hourglass symbol that consumers will see on the site will be seen at the end while all the information is processed. Under the old system, consumers often saw the hourglass symbol each time they entered a piece of information while it was being transmitted.

- Consumers will be able to browse the website without entering personal information. In addition, consumers will be able to go online to view plans and prices before the exchange officially opens for business on Nov. 15. However, no date has been given for when the site will be open for browsing.

Still, the website won’t include some things that consumers want – most notably, easier access to the lists of doctors and hospitals that make up insurers’ networks of providers.

Insurance advisors never got the broker access to HealthCare​.gov they had with most state sites. Nonetheless, they are eager to try out the new federal site, according to a report in USA Today.

“We’re excited the functionality appears to be improved,” Jessica Waltman, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Health Underwriters, said. “We’re still waiting to test it and see it.”

 

 

 

 

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Susan Rupe is assistant editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Connect with Susan →

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