Healthcare.Gov Promises a Snazzier Production for OE3

Yesterday marked the debut of the third open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces, including Healthcare.gov, which is the storefront to the Marketplace in 37 states. Has the performance improved? What new bells and whistles will delight the audience?

Faster lines at the box office. Although it looks the same to consumers, new account setup and login functionality will be faster, more stable, and allows for an increasing number of users to visit the website at the same time. 

Replacing lost tickets for the show. In the past, if an enrollee was unable to access their email or forgot the password, they were out of luck and had to set up a new account. This year, the call center will be able to change email addresses and reset accounts. 

Picking up the pace. Nobody likes a performance that drags, so it’s good to know that Healthcare.gov will be 40% faster than before and more stable that ever. Also, more people will be able to use the shorter, more streamlined application (16 screens compared to 76 in the original production).

Cameo appearances. New navigation tools and helpful prompts should enhance the consumer experience. Directions, buttons, and page designs have been improved to better communicate information and next steps. Helpful pop-up prompts should cut down on data inconsistencies: For example, if an applicant who is the tax filer does not input their social security number, a pop-up box will alert them that they may have to provide additional documentation later if they do not enter this requested information.

First-time attendee vs. repeat customer. New customers vs. repeat attendees will have an experience that matches their unique situation. New information has been added to the website to help each consumer understand exactly where they are in the enrollment process and what steps remain. Returning consumers will be able to easily find their current plan if it is available again for next year and compare it with other available plans in their area without having to manually search by entering a 14-digit plan identification number.

Closing credits. After hitting the submit button, the consumer will immediately see on the screen the type of coverage they qualify for, how much financial help they are eligible for, and whether they need to submit additional information because there was a data matching inconsistency, which is highlighted in red.

Special effects. A new out-of-pocket (OOP) calculator feature will provide consumers with an estimate of what their premiums, deductibles, and co-pays may be for each specific plan prior to enrolling based on low/medium/high use of health care.

Sneak Preview. In the coming weeks, two new features will allow consumers to lookup doctors and prescription drugs when they are viewing and comparing plans. These features, which are in development, will provide consumers with easily searchable information about the doctors and prescriptions plans may cover as consumers shop and compare coverage.

Reviews. It’s a bit early to give a thorough review but if the opening scenes are any indication, OE3 promises to be a greatly improved experience for consumers. Let us know if you enjoy the show!

A special thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its support of our work on providing feedback to HHS and highlighting how ACA implementation is impacting consumers.

Read more about how ACA implementation is affecting consumers:
CMS Releases State-by-State Designations of Whether Certain Medicaid Categories Meet Minimum Essential Coverage Standards
1095B Forms May Cause Problems for Enrollees Who Transition from Marketplace to Medicaid Coverage
2016 Federal Poverty Levels Are Out; What Does This Mean for the Marketplace and Medicaid?
Little Known Provision Keeps Kids From Slipping Through Cracks Due to Differences in Eligibility Rules
Permanent 90/10 Rule Will Help States Continue Efforts to Modernize IT Systems
Wondering What Marketplace Rate Increases Mean for Consumers?
Consumer Assistance and Tools Needed to Ensure that All Eligible Marketplace Enrollees Get Cost-Sharing Reductions
Healthcare.gov Fixes System Glitch in Counting Social Security Income for Certain Tax Dependents
Critiquing the Performance as the Curtain Closes on OE2
Tricia Brooks
Tricia Brooks is a Research Professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families

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