when the second period of enrollment begins in November, 70% of the consumers will be able to use a shorter and simpler online application on the HealthCare.gov as it has been redesigned by the Obamacare administration. The online form came with fewer pages, fewer screens to go through and less questions to answer. People who intend to buy insurance for the first time from uncomplicated household backgrounds will find it easy.
"The streamlined application will allow people to get through the process a lot faster," said Andrew M. Slavitt, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
AdvertisementThe new procedure to buy health insurance will save consumers the stress and frustration many people had faced the last time they had tried to register through HealthCare.gov. "Instead of being user-friendly, the original website was user-hostile," said Luke Chung, the president of FMS, a software development company in Vienna, Va.
The revamped website will have "a new look and feel" and will provide "a shorter, smoother, simpler user experience," according to an internal memorandum prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services. Consumers will need to answer some queries on whether to use the old application or fill a new one.
Some questions asked by the government are - do all the people applying have the same permanent address, is anyone an American Indian. Are both you and your spouse responsible for the child living with you and do you have dependent parents living with you who do not register on your tax returns? In a summary of the new procedure, health officials said: "We expect about 70 percent of applicants to use the shorter, updated application. The remaining 30 percent, who have more complicated household scenarios, will use the traditional marketplace application."
Consumers can now see the available health plans without identifying themselves, but to buy health insurance will have to register with HealthCare.gov. "In the improved online application, account creation is completed on one, long screen, instead of using a separate screen for each section," the administration said. "This requires fewer clicks and makes the account creation process simpler and faster." In the new application there is backward navigation, which allows consumers to change information entered on previous screens. In the old application consumers had to cancel and start over if they wanted to make any changes. Jessica F. Waltman, a senior vice president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, which represents agents and brokers, welcomed the new application. "This is something we've been seeking for quite a while a procedure that allows people to jump the queue and get through the system faster if their case is neat and simple," she said.
President Obama was proud that the administration had listened to criticism from consumer groups and shortened the individual application to three pages, from 21. "Especially in this age of the Internet," he said, "people aren't going to have the patience to sit there for hours on end." The new secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a former White House budget director, has described improved management as one of her top priorities. But the department disagreed with recommendations from the G.A.O. about steps she should take to track spending and report more accurate data.
The auditors tried to establish how many federal employees had been shifted from Medicare, Medicaid and other programs to work on the insurance exchanges. Information provided by the administration "was not complete and was based on personal recollection unsupported by documentary evidence," the report said.
Robert Pear, September 2014
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)