Obamacare customers get alternative to HealthCare.gov
February 21st, 2014
04:23 PM ET
7 months ago

Obamacare customers get alternative to HealthCare.gov

Washington (CNN) – With less than six weeks left to purchase health insurance before open enrollment closes on new Obamacare exchanges, customers still shopping for a plan finally have an online option other than the government-run HealthCare.gov.

GetInsured, a private online insurance exchange, announced Wednesday that it has begun enrolling subsidy-eligible customers in Affordable Care Act plans entirely online.

“We’re grateful to our colleagues at HealthCare.gov for working diligently with us over the past few months to enable this technology breakthrough – the GetInsured online solution is great news for Americans who still need to enroll in health insurance and don’t want to spend a lot of time doing it,” Chini Krishnan, GetInsured co-founder and CEO, said in a statement.

For now, private exchanges like GetInsured are required to use a somewhat cumbersome process many experts call the “double redirect.”

Under this design, consumers can begin shopping for coverage on a private exchange. But to confirm their identity and determine their eligibility for a premium subsidy, they must first be directed to HealthCare.gov.

Then after entering their personal information and confirming it with the federal data hub, they are redirected back to the private exchange to select a plan and complete the enrollment.

Despite promises from the government that technical problems with the double redirect system have been solved, executives at some private exchanges still think the system is too complicated.

Private exchanges like eHealth.com and GoHealth.com have instead opted to determine individuals’ subsidy eligibility over the phone, using customer call centers to enroll low-income customers.

“It’s not working well enough yet,” said Michael Mahoney, senior vice president of consumer marketing at GoHealth.

“The last thing we want is for a consumer to call and say I don’t understand or I picked the wrong plan and for that to be our fault.”

GoHealth has been testing the online direct enrollment system with small groups of consumers, but Mahoney still believes that the system is too complicated.

“It’s built for a pretty advanced user,” Mahoney said, adding that his concerns are for the “consumer who gets confused, and stops somewhere during that process.”

Private companies like GoHealth and GetInsured are working with officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to improve the direct enrollment system.

Executives at both companies are optimistic that private exchanges like theirs will play a much larger role in the second open-enrollment period beginning later this year.

“I think it would be very smart to assume that in 2014, even the government wouldn’t push out a process where you have to redirect a user between multiple websites multiple times as a final solution,” Mahoney said. “There’s a difference between whatever duct tape was required to get to an October 1 launch and an ideal system.”

A potentially major improvement unlikely to be ready by the end of March would do away with the double redirect system entirely. This would allow consumers to shop for health insurance, determine their eligibility for a federal premium subsidy and select a plan entirely through a private health exchange.

Neither Mahoney nor Krishnan would confirm that such a system was in the works, but both expressed their preference for a process where customers could stay on their site throughout the entire enrollment process.

“We have every confidence in our collaboration with CMS and our continued work together to develop new innovations that further streamline the direct enrollment process during the next open enrollment season,” Krishnan said.

A CMS official dismissed the idea of a direct enrollment system that cut out the federal marketplace entirely, but acknowledged that improvements to the current system were in the works.

“All eligibility determinations must be processed through the FFM, however we are in ongoing conversations with web brokers and issuers on how to continue to improve the consumer experience for the next open enrollment period, and will provide more guidance as we finalize any new options,” the official said.


Filed under: Healthcare • Obama administration • Obamacare
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Only you enrol if you get cheaper price at low deductions–that too after checking thoroughly about this private insurance exchange. Watch out for fraud.

    February 21, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    0bama said on the View in july 2010 that african american PPL ARE a sort of Mongrel PPL And he said that WAS TRUE of white PPL as well . And n0t 1 word was said . google it ! I think that would make for a good report for cnn at this time . thx

    February 21, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    @Stuffitu – The most corrupt president in our history is a loser? Everyone knows this.
    -------------------------
    Everyone knows you can save 15% off your car insurance! But did you know that not everyone lives in your delusional bubble version of reality?

    February 21, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Chris -E – Ted Nugent, republican hero and draft dodger, really was out of line, no matter what wingnuts think. Did you check out Tora Bora?

    February 21, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Sure Chris, we believe you GOP troll?????

    February 21, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @Chris-E...al
    0bama said on the View in july 2010 that african american PPL ARE a sort of Mongrel PPL And he said that WAS TRUE of white PPL as well . And n0t 1 word was said . google it ! I think that would make for a good report for cnn at this time . thx
    --------
    I think the "subhuman" part put it over the top. Thanks for your well thought out, on topic, typographically flawless work by the way.

    February 21, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Stuffitu

    Finally, at least on the non liberally biased news networks, people are finally starting to talk about how the democrat liberals and their corrupt president have screwed over those of us on social security who choose medicare advantage. They raised my rates by 177% and doubled the deductibles and are giving the money to the dope addicts! welfare frauds and corrupt unions.

    February 21, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. The REAL Truth...

    @Stuffitu – Finally, at least on the non liberally biased news networks, people are finally starting to talk about how the democrat liberals and their corrupt president have screwed over those of us on social security who choose medicare advantage. They raised my rates by 177% and doubled the deductibles and are giving the money to the dope addicts! welfare frauds and corrupt unions.
    ----------------------------
    It may be completely devoid of any reality and full of the usual uneducated/ignorant troll fodder whining, but it IS entertaining.. much like watching the GOP squirm and apologize for Nugent, et al. Pass the popcorn!

    February 21, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  9. John

    According to the Feb 12 Gallup survey.......non insured healthcare individuals in the 18-25 year age group have gone down, as a group, more than any other age group in the last 90 days....previously 30.2% of non insured were in age group, now only 25.7% on non insured are in this age group.......this is working even better than projected for the lower voting age group sign ups..............Can hardly wait for the next barrage of mis-information from the right.

    February 21, 2014 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    Looks like obama now wants to cut Medicare Advantage. You libtards are amazing.

    February 21, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  11. Harold Read

    Millions wasted on HealthCare.org and:

    It is still a failure

    Dems arms still claiming the website is a success as even more money is spent on a private company to get the job done

    No accurate legitimate/paid enrollment numbers as promised

    Lied to again about how The site was supposed to fixed by Dec 1st 2013

    As Obama's Ambassador to China and one of the chief writers of the Obamacare bill, Max "I am really not an expert on China" Baucus said... ... ... "trainwreck".

    February 21, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. Gunderson

    Uh, Humm,
    Gurgyl says, Look out for Fraud. Where that be, Gurgyl? White House? Remember, If you like your Health Plan, you can keep your Health Plan, Period !!

    February 22, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  13. Smitty

    Just like Obammy himself Obammy care don't work. Get ready for more lip service from the BIGGEST LIAR OF THE YEAR.

    February 22, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. Smitty

    Things just keep getting worse for the USA under Obammy, if you cant see that your eyes are shut !!!

    February 22, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |