Promises, predictions: In upcoming enrollment season, healthcare.gov will be faster, easier

According to Obama administration officials, the updated website includes a shorter insurance application form and is not expected to crash. Unlike last year, the site has been undergoing testing for more than five weeks.

The New York Times: Easier Time In Health Marketplace Is Promised
Obama administration officials said Wednesday that consumers would have a much easier time buying health insurance in the federal marketplace this fall, and although they promised that HealthCare.gov would not crash, they provided few operational details to back up their confidence in the revamped website (Pear, 10/8).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Federal Officials Unveil Streamlined Marketplace Website
Consumers using the federal healthcare.gov website when open enrollment begins next month should expect a faster website with a shorter application form and features making it easier to use on mobile devices, Obama administration officials said Wednesday. In a briefing with reporters, they showed off a live version of the updated site and said it has already been used to enroll about 20,000 people (Appleby, 10/8).

Los Angeles Times: Redesigned Obamacare Website Is Faster And Easier To Use
Obama administration officials expressed confidence Wednesday that the government's healthcare website will work far more quickly and dependably this year, cutting in half the time needed for most people to apply for insurance. In contrast to last year's disastrous launch of the healthcare.gov website, in which the government had only a few days to perform full tests of the site, the final stage of "end-to-end" testing for this year's site began Tuesday, 5 1/2 weeks before open enrollment begins Nov. 15 (Lauter, 10/8).

The Washington Post: Health Officials: Healthcare.gov Enrollment Will Be Faster And Smoother
When the first year of open enrollment began last fall, Healthcare.gov had severe technical problems and frequently crashed, resulting in frustration for millions of people trying to sign up for health plans offered in the new online marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act. Officials said Wednesday that the enrollment process has been streamlined, and that new customers may face as few as 16 steps -; compared to as many as 76 last year (Ellis Nutt, 10/8).

The Wall Street Journal: Healthcare.gov Shortens Insurance Application
Under the revised system, about 70% of people who haven't bought coverage through the site before are likely to go through an identity-verification portal and then complete an application that is 16 web-pages long, down from 76 pages last year, according to a version previewed by reporters Wednesday. The application to obtain coverage and possible tax credits toward premiums through the site still requires the consumer to provide their address, current income and related details, but no longer spreads the questions across multiple pages, one reason for long wait times and site strain last year. About 30% of new users will be diverted to the old system after the first few pages because their situations appear to be more complicated (Radnofsky, 10/8).

USA Today: Federal Health Care Website: Easier But No Promises
Most of the consumers visiting the federal health care exchange to buy insurance for the first time next month will find a much shorter application that they can access with their smartphones, federal officials said Tuesday. It won't be the clunky, glitch-ridden site that marked the debut of the Affordable Care Act's federal exchange last October, but that's about as far as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services want to go this year when it comes to predictions (O'Donnell, 10/8).

The Associated Press: Next Edition Of Healthcare.Gov Is Unveiled
The Obama administration unveiled a new version of HealthCare.gov on Wednesday, with some improvements as well as at least one early mistake and a new challenge. Officials also said that HealthCare.gov won't display premiums for 2015 until the second week of November. Open enrollment season runs Nov. 15 through Feb. 15. Coverage can start as early as Jan. 1. ... The goof is a mistranslation in large type on the home page of the Spanish-language version of the site. It's the very first word on the page. Trying to (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/8).

Also, one outlet looks at a state marketplace's record-

California Healthline: One Year Later: What Worked For Covered Calif. And What To Expect In November
Many say that the state's exchange was overwhelmingly successful in its primary goal during the first open enrollment period: to extend health insurance to more Californians. Since the exchange launched last October, more than 3.4 million state residents have enrolled in coverage -- including more than 1.3 million in private plans and about two million in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program. That's far higher than enrollment in any other state, and it cut California's uninsured rate in half (Stuckey, 10/8).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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