On June 24th the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new, consumer
friendly HealthCare.gov website and a 24-hour consumer call center to help prepare for enrolling in the health Insurance marketplaces. The primary goal of these tools is to help consumers evaluate their healthcare options and make an educated decision about their coverage. All resources will be available in both English and Spanish. In addition, there are numerous resources to help small employers select a plan.
Right now the online resources are only educational, but starting October 1st consumers will be able to create accounts, apply, compare plans, evaluate options and enroll. If your state is operating its own marketplace or joining in a partnership, HealthCare.gov will direct consumers to the appropriate website. The new site also includes a chat feature, allowing real-time assistance with certified staff.
NHF strongly encourages everyone to explore the new website, browse the frequently asked questions (FAQs), and sign up for news and updates. The new website is also helpful for consumers who need more information about how to enroll in health insurance this fall. The content will be updated throughout the summer in anticipation of open enrollment. HHS has reiterated that open enrollment will begin on October 1, with coverage starting on January 1, 2014.
Additional Marketplace Resources
The state-based marketplaces are making more information available to insurers, providers and consumers. To assist those of you in states with state-based marketplaces, we have compiled contact information for your use.We encourage you to visit the marketplace website and learn more about how implementation is going in your state. Many sites list public educational forums and listservs.
For those of you in states where there will be a partnership or federally facilitated marketplace, very little information is available. NHF will provide you with information as we learn more and will continue to advocate with the federal government for access to HTCs.
Also, HHS officials are coordinating webinars, conference calls and listservs for stakeholders in each state to learn more about marketplace implementation. We encourage chapter leaders to contact these regional directors to sign up for any resources in your state. This is an especially important resource for people in states without state-based marketplaces. The list of directors is available here.
Finally, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health policy think tank, has recently released a report about marketplace implementation in 10 states–CA, CO, CT, DC, MA, MD, OR, RI, VT and WA–including which health insurance plans will participate in the individual marketplace in each state. The study is available here.