Feds announce plan for simplifying healthcare enrollment

Photo by didesign021 / iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — While the future of former President Barack Obama’s health care law remains uncertain, the federal agency in charge of oversight of HealthCare.gov is moving forward with efforts to make the process of signing up for coverage easier for consumers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Wednesday a new streamlined and simplified direct enrollment process for consumers signing up for individual market coverage through exchanges that use HealthCare.gov.

Consumers applying for individual market coverage during the upcoming open enrollment period – Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2017 – through direct enrollment partners will now be able to complete their application using one website. In previous years, consumers who signed up for health coverage using a third party website were redirected to HealthCare.gov to complete their application.

This reduces needless regulatory burden for businesses that provide direct enrollment services and offers consumers easier access to healthcare comparisons and shopping experiences for coverage offered through HealthCare.gov.

In a media statement, Seema Verma, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, called the announcement “another important step to help create stability in the health insurance market.” Verma said:

It is common sense to make it as simple and easy as possible for consumers to shop for and access health coverage. It is time to get the federal government out of the way and give patients the best tools to make their own healthcare decisions. We look forward to continuing to work with private partners to make sure these streamlined enrollment pathways are available, secure, and ensure a high degree of program integrity.

Consumer feedback showed that the previous process of being redirected was confusing and made it harder to finish the application. The new process allows consumers to start and finish their application through the third-party website of direct enrollment partners approved to use the proxy direct enrollment pathway.

The guidance announced Wednesday is part of a larger effort by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services intended to stabilize the health insurance market by providing more ways for consumers to access coverage.  To read more about the guidance, click here.

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