HHS Launches New Resource on Exchanges for Consumers
This morning, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relaunched Healthcare.gov, the department’s website on all things health reform, to include information for consumers on the federal health insurance marketplace. With exchange-based coverage scheduled to kick in next January, and plan sales set to begin in October, the new information aims to help consumers explore the different kinds of options that will be available and get a sense of what it will be like to shop for insurance on an exchange. The site already provides the basics of health insurance plans and the health law and how the upcoming changes will affect individuals.
By and large, consumers don’t yet know what to expect, writes Kelly S. Kennedy in an article for USA Today. Other obstacles to public acceptance of exchanges include previous experiences with health insurance companies and a hesitation to have the government involved in healthcare at all. But in the coming years, federal budget experts project that a large group of Americans will shop for coverage through the online exchanges – an estimated 25 million by 2022, according to Ms. Kennedy’s article.
In addition to federal exchange administrators, state exchange planners and insurance companies are also trying to get the word out. Earlier this week, we tweeted about innovative ways states are trying to market exchanges, such as running ads on the online radio website Pandora and pushing for TV show writers to mention exchanges in their plot lines. Once the exchanges are launched and consumers start using them to shop for coverage, states are planning ways to keep consumers informed throughout the shopping process. For example, Colorado is planning to hire and train a corps of health insurance navigators to guide consumers and help them choose among the plans available, according to an article by Katie Kerwin McCrimmon of Health Policy Solutions.
Readers, what do you think of the new HHS resource and other efforts by states to promote and explain exchanges? What kinds of questions remain?