The rollout of the health insurance exchange websites mandated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was infamously rocky, and left the Obama administration vulnerable to criticism while also potentially costing millions of Americans the chance to find affordable health insurance options as early as possible. Fortunately, these issues were handled relatively quickly by a huge push from the White House, and a similar one now seems to be under way for the second open enrollment period.
Later this year, the ACA's marketplaces will once again open to the public, and the Obama administration is hard at work trying to solve a number of problems on the sites' back end that could make things a little more difficult for enrollees going forward, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps chief among these is the ability of the system to make sure insurance policy providers are paid automatically.
This may become even more problematic because the contractors that handled the initial rollout of the Healthcare.gov website are no longer in control of it, and there may be some significant compatibility issues in the offing as well, the report said. In addition to fixing the back-end issues that remain, and which consumers generally do not see or have to worry about, are actual user-related issues such as changes to the way people will be able to apply, and a new comparison tool that helps them find the most affordable coverage available to them based on a number of factors.
How will it work?
The issue for the federal government is that there's not usually a way to simulate millions of Americans moving onto the new system within a relatively short period of time, and as such it seems that determining whether all these changes will work as hoped will have to wait for enrollment to open once again on Nov. 15, the report said. Many experts say that this simply may not be enough time to get every detail of the system right, and even with several months still remaining, this is generally considered to be a narrow time frame.
Insurers who can do more to improve consumers' chances to find the most affordable coverage outside the exchanges could benefit significantly. People who are wary of the exchanges, or do not qualify for them, may still be on the lookout for affordable coverage.