All-New Healthcare.Gov ramping up for Year Two
I had to visit HC.gov for the first time in months today to check on something and was impressed by the mostly new interface and overhauled layout. Obviously a lot of the content changes are connected to prepping for the 2nd Open Enrollment Period (lots of "get ready!" and "upcoming deadlines!" and the like), but right off the bat I saw one important improvement: It's finally responsive. That is to say, HC.gov is finally optimized for smartphones & tablets.
Beyond that, some of the promised improvements are extremely welcome:
- the health insurance website will feature a streamlined application for most of those signing up for the first time. Seventy-six screens in the online application have been reduced to 16, officials said.
- About 20,000 insurance applications have been successfully processed during special enrollment periods on this new, improved website
Yep, that's right: The new HC.gov site is already live. By my calculations, there should be around 6,300 people being enrolled via the federal exchange daily during the off-season. Assuming around 1.3 people per policy, that should mean roughly 4,800 policy applications per day, which suggests that the new version of the site has actually been used since around October 3rd (the USA Today article ran on the 8th; presumably the "20K" mentioned ran from around the 3rd through the 7th).
Assuming 20K applications = roughly 26K individuals, that means that the new Healthcare.Gov has already enrolled more people than the first one did in its entire first month of operation, for whatever that's worth.
As for the "back end" data/billing side (the "834 reports") which so many have worried about even after the "front end" was fixed last winter...
The agency also started Monday to test how well the applications get from the consumers to the insurance companies on the federal exchange — the fourth phase of testing. The process will last until open enrollment starts. A major problem with the last open enrollment period was that applications often arrived at insurers garbled, if they arrived at all. People who thought they had insurance really didn't.
Among the other changes for the better:
- Indentifying information only has to be entered once at the beginning of the process and will be remembered by the system.
- Now, there's just an hourglass at the end while all of the information is processed, which is "how a modern website should work," says Slavitt.
- Browsing is allowed without entering personal information. That may start as early as Nov. 9
- more call center employees have been added to field calls
Assuming all of the above works as presented, the 2nd open enrollment period should have much less drama on the enrollment side. Ideally, it will just, you know...work.