Regions

The Obamacare Website Healthcare.gov is Getting Important Updates

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October 26
2:47 AM 2015

Healthcare.gov opens for windows shopping starting on Sunday. The updates allow the health care consumers to see the cost and benefits of insurance plans for 2016.

The US Department of Health and Human Services announced a series of upgrades for the website, which residents of Florida, Texas and 35 other states use to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

There will be 38 states in total to rely on HealthCare.gov to sign up consumers this year. The department  expects 10 million people will obtain or re-enroll in exchange plans by the end of 2016.

The department's spokeswoman Lori Lodes said, as reported on Huffington Post, that new features are added based on direct feedback from consumers. She added that the new features will help consumers to better understand the cost of average based on their own situation and better understand their health care option.

The most important upgrades will be the introduction of new online shopping tools, allowing consumers to compare the premium costs, provider networks and drug formularies they will encounter under various plans.

The site adds more streamlined and customized experience for consumers, but the consumers will have to wait a little longer for new features that will allow them to ensure their preferred doctor is in network and their prescription drugs are covered.

The site's new features will also give a big help to consumers with chronic illnesses. If a consumer relies on a specific drug, the new tool will allow them to see whether the drug is covered by the insurer. It is also helpfull when a consumer wants to stick with one doctor that they have been seeing for many years.

The consumers who use this tool will receive additional prompts, such as pop-up messages reminding them  to type in their Social Security numbers, and be able to shift through eligibility for individual family members.

The acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Andrew M. Slavitt said, as reported on New York Times, that the Healthcare's consumers will experience the easier and faster service this year. He added that the response time will be 40% faster than last year.

However, according to Modernhealthcare, the site's CMS is still combining data from health insurers and isn't sure the tools will be ready when the new version of the site launches.

Even when go live on the site this Sunday, the new shopping tools will still be on beta testing process.  The consumers will be advised to check the accuracy of the information with the plans.

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