ACA Website Shows Improvement; Spanish-Language Site Goes Live
Consumers and navigators across the country say they have seen a significant improvement in the federal health insurance exchange website, just over one week after the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline to get HealthCare.gov working for most users, the New York Times reports.
According to those familiar with the exchange, the number of people selecting a health plan is increasing quickly. About 112,000 people selected plans in the first week of December, compared with about 100,000 in all of November and 27,000 in October. In addition, more than 500,000 U.S. residents created accounts on HealthCare.gov last week.
Karen Egozi -- CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which oversees 45 navigators in eight locations -- said her team rated the system an eight on a scale of one to 10, meaning that most people were able at least to select a plan or take home information to select a plan. Egozi said, "I'm 80% satisfied." She added, "I think it will be great when it's 100%."
Although technical errors on the front end of the site appear to have been fixed by the patchwork of hardware and software upgrades, federal officials acknowledge that there still is work that remains to be done, particularly to prepare for an anticipated surge of users before the Dec. 23 deadline for purchasing coverage that begins Jan. 1.
In addition, users continue to face some lingering technical obstacles, such as the system's verification process, which requires individuals to provide proof of identity or citizenship or wait up to one week for the government to determine their Medicaid eligibility. Meanwhile, other shoppers were unable to actually select a plan after shopping and browsing through the plans, and some were asked to try again later (Alvarez/Preston, New York Times, 12/9).
Spanish-Language Site Launches
Meanwhile, the administration on Monday officially launched the Spanish-language version of the website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov, Reuters reports (Charles, Reuters, 12/9).
About six organizations that work with Spanish speakers are testing out the website so that it can be improved this month before federal officials kick off an outreach campaign in January. Some groups, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, are holding focus groups of five to 10 people to test out the site.
Some test users already have flagged some issues, notably that the window-shopping tool to compare plans before creating an account still appears in English (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 12/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.