OK, "Rate Shock!!" Theorists, now's the time to prove your claims: HC.gov window shopping goes live tonight!
The official press release doesn't specify the exact date that HC.gov window shopping will be going online, but it appears to be "sometime overnight" according to HHS spokesman Aaron Albright:
Press release: Health Insurance Marketplace offers tool to help consumers review their plan options for 2015
Title: Health Insurance Marketplace offers tool to help consumers review their plan options for 2015
For Immediate Release
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Health Insurance Marketplace offers tool to help consumers review their plan options for 2015
Consumers should visit the HealthCare.gov window shopping tool to learn about their plan choices. This year there are even more plans on the market than last year.
Beginning this week, consumers can visit HealthCare.gov to review detailed information about each health insurance plan offered in their area before applying ahead of open enrollment, which starts November 15, according to an announcement made today by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. With more issuers offering coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace this year, the majority of consumers will find more affordable options for themselves and their families. By answering a few simple questions, such as location and family size, consumers will be able to compare plans and get an estimate on how much financial assistance they may qualify for when shopping for coverage, without needing to submit an application.
“Consumers can prepare for open enrollment by visiting HealthCare.gov and using the window shopping feature to see what plans will be available in their area,” said Administrator Tavenner. “Using this tool, consumers can compare plans, covered benefits, and physician and hospital networks before the Marketplace annual open enrollment period starts on November 15. New features will give consumers a comprehensive picture of the plans in their area so they can choose the one that’s right for them.”
CMS is working to improve the consumer experience by making the shopping experience easier. Last year, a consumer had to answer nine questions before being able to view their plan options, this year a consumer can start looking at plans after entering just their zip code. Consumers can answer a few simple questions relevant to them to get an estimate on how much financial assistance they may qualify for when shopping for coverage. The window shopping tool has also been optimized for access through a smart phone or tablet. Consumers can also review their options at a more convenient time by emailing or sharing a link to a plan’s information. Premium estimates are more accurate due to more robust data in HealthCare.gov, such as rates adjusted for tobacco use, which are being included in the estimates provided by the tool.
Window shopping remains the single most popular section on HealthCare.gov and regularly has three times the amount of traffic than any other page on the Marketplace website. CMS has improved the scalability and performance of the tool for high volumes of traffic. Additionally, the site has gone through usability and mobile testing that has been key in improving the website’s features.
Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins Nov. 15, 2014, and runs through Feb. 15, 2015. Consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, which can help pay monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs when receiving services. All consumers shopping for health insurance coverage for 2015— even those who currently have coverage through the Marketplace — should enroll or re-enroll between November 15 and December 15 in order to have coverage effective on Jan. 1, 2015.
Consumers can find local help at: Localhelp.healthcare.gov or call the Federally-facilitated Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. Translation services are available. The call is free.
To preview plans in your area after the new feature is live, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/
For more information about Health Insurance Marketplaces, visit: www.healthcare.gov/marketplace