The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 30, 2013

Government offers health insurance marketplace tools


FROM STAFF REPORTS

— The Obama administration has kicked off the Health Insurance Marketplace education effort with a new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hours-a-day consumer call center to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for private health insurance.

The new tools will help Americans understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1.

“The new website and toll-free number have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families — or their businesses,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“The re-launched Healthcare.gov and new call center will help consumers prepare for the new coverage opportunities coming later this year,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “In October, HealthCare.gov will be the online destination for consumers to compare and enroll in affordable, qualified health plans.”

HealthCare.gov is the destination for the Health Insurance Marketplace. Americans may now access new educational information and learn what they can do to begin to get ready for open enrollment this fall.

The website will add functionality over the summer so that by October, consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for qualified health plans.

Key features of the website, based on consumer research and online commercial best practices, include integration of social media, sharable content and engagement destinations for consumers to get more information. The site will also launch with web chat functionality to support additional consumer inquiries.

The website is built with a responsive design so that consumers may access it from their desktops, smart-phones, and other mobile devices. In addition, the website is available via an application interface at www.healthcare.gov/developers.

Between now and the start of open enrollment, the Marketplace call center will provide educational information and, beginning Oct. 1, will assist consum-ers with application completion and plan selection. In addition to English and Spanish, the call center provides assistance in more than 150 languages through an interpretation and translation service.

Customer service representatives are available for assistance via a toll-free number at 1-800-318-2596, and hearing-impaired callers using TTY/ TDD technology can dial 1-855-889-4325 for assistance.

To view the new look and new focus of the website, visit www.HealthCare.gov.