END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

HealthCare.Gov still has a few issues. Here's a 30-second fix for one of them.

Late last night I posted a quick walk-thru of the all-new 2016 HealthCare.Gov Window Shopping tool. For the most part, it's a major improvement over the 2015 version (which itself was, of course, a massive improvement over the buggy, 78-screen original version launched for 2014 open enrollment).

However, there are a few improvements which can always be made, and for me, one of the biggest ones is right at the beginning. Immediately after entering your Zip Code, the very first question which pops up is "Are you enrolled in a 2015 Marketplace health plan?"

Aside from the fact that some people may not even know whether or not their current plan is "through" the ACA healthcare exchange or not ("Marketplace" is a pretty generic term, after all...) the problem is that if you choose "Yes", here's what pops up:

It asks you to enter your current 14-character Plan ID.

There's a couple of problems with this. The little "info" pop-up icon explains where to find your Plan ID...

...but the screen doesn't explain why they're asking for it, nor does it explain that this is an optional field (clicking "Skip" will take you to the next screen, but you have no way of knowing this beforehand).

The larger problem is that a lot of current enrollees aren't going to have any idea what their 14-character code is and are gonna get frustrated trying to hunt down the letter (assuming they didn't throw it out by accident), or won't remember their login/password info. Obviously they'll need their login info to actually renew/switch plans actively, but right now they're just trying to shop around.

It turns out that the only reason to enter your current Plan ID is so that, once you've gotten to the actual plans, your current one will already be automatically entered in the "Compare Plans" box.

This is a very good feature to include, since it saves people the hassle of trying to hunt down their current plan from a sea of options later on. HOWEVER, the screen above doesn't show up until after they've already plugged in the Plan ID code and clicked Continue.

Both the "Why do I need my code" and "Do I have to enter my code?" problems can be solved by simply adding the following to the first screen:

Bingo. Confusion solved.

Seriously, sometimes that's all it takes to resolve this sort of thing.