USA Today reported this week on the outreach efforts on the part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including a new government webpage (relaunched as a new website in June), training videos and infographics to help Americans better understand the health insurance exchanges that will open October 1.
See “A new website will help explain the insurance marketplaces, called exchanges, where Americans will start buying health insurance October 1 under the Affordable Care Act” at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/08/05/survey-americans-dont-understand-insurance/2619007/. The newly revised webpage is https://www.healthcare.gov/.
The announcement came as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a phone press conference on Monday, and insisted that the exchanges will be ready for business by that deadline. Keiser Health News reports: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a call with reporters yesterday that the agency is "on target" to open new online marketplaces October 1. She also spoke about personal "Obamacare" accounts which consumers can begin creating now in advance of being able to shop for plans.”
The website is intended to fill the void if what many acknowledge is a lack of easy-to-understand information for would be enrollees. When they launch on October 1, exchanges are expected to provide information on plan choices, plan benefits and premium charges.
The outreach efforts by HHS also include the opening of a new call center for small business and the opportunity for potential enrollees to create their personal accounts in anticipation of the October 1 launch. CQ Healthbeat News reported that: “Officials said that more than a million people have visited healthcare.gov since the website was relaunched in June to begin efforts to educate people about enrolling in coverage. The public can now create a personal account and set up user names and passwords on the site so they are ready when the actual open enrollment begins.”
The idea is that the potential enrollee who sets up an account now can learn what information will be collected by the October 1 sign up. The site includes a form that can be used to collect information from employers to complete the coverage applications they will submit to the exchange.