A Better HealthCare.gov and Improved Enrollment Experience
A Better HealthCare.gov and Improved Enrollment Experience
Since the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken many steps to improve the consumer experience of HealthCare.gov and strengthen enrollment channels for consumers seeking quality, affordable health coverage. As we enter the third month of open enrollment, the steps we’ve taken have put us on a path for millions of Americans to gain new, affordable coverage, and to do so online, by phone, in person, or by mail.
Improving the HealthCare.gov Online Experience
CMS enlisted a general contractor, putting in place real-time decision making, and protocols for prioritizing the most important fixes, diagnosing and solving software glitches, and upgrading infrastructure and hardware. The site today is working smoothly for the vast majority of users.
Specifically, since October 1, CMS has made measurable improvements to HealthCare.gov, allowing more users to move quickly through the system, from seeking information to completing the application to shopping and enrollment. These include:
- The average page response time across the site is now under 1 second. This compares to the first few weeks after the site launched when users were waiting an estimated average of eight seconds for pages across the site to load.
- Site error rate has been reduced to well below 1 percent from 6 percent. Error rate is a measure of the frequency, on a per page basis, of system timeouts or failures that prevent the user from advancing to the next page or result in the user receiving error messages
- Site uptime is now approximately 90 percent -- up from about 42 percent weeks ago. Uptime is a measure of time that the system is functioning and available for use.
- HealthCare.gov is now able to operate smoothly with approximately 50,000 users on the site at the same time. This allows the site to accommodate more than 800,000 visits a day from consumers who are seeking information, filling out applications, shopping, and enrolling.
Consumer Content and Contacts
In response to consumer demand, new features have been added to HealthCare.gov such as:
- More robust window shopping for consumers who want to browse options before completing the application and enrolling in coverage. Consumers now only need to answer a few simple questions to see detailed information about each Marketplace health insurance plan offered in their state before applying. They can compare plans, covered benefits, physician and hospital networks, and more. No login or application required.
- Targeted outreach to consumers who had problems early in the process to invite them to complete their enrollment.
- A consumer tips outreach campaign to provide a step-by-step process for consumers to follow to help them move through the enrollment process effectively.
Bolstering Other Enrollment Channels
CMS has worked to provide consumers with enhanced pathways to shop for and enroll in the Marketplace coverage that best suits their needs. Additional customer service representatives have been added to the Marketplace call centers, now totaling more than 11,000 nationwide. CMS has conducted additional trainings for call center staff and in-person assisters. Software and hardware upgrades to the system have increased the capacity for these channels to process applications more quickly as well.
CMS has also implemented a consumer call-back service to reach those consumers who need additional assistance completing their enrollment process.
There are a number of ways for consumers to receive in-person help to shop for and enroll in affordable Marketplace coverage: through trained navigators; in-person assistance personnel, including enrollment assistance teams and centers; or certified application counselors. To date, more than 19,000 assisters have been trained by CMS. These assisters have reached an estimated 450,000 consumers since October 1.
Navigators, in-person assisters, and certified application counselors are prepared to provide consumers with in-person help. Each assister undergoes a rigorous training process, including privacy training, and is tested to ensure they can effectively help consumers enroll in coverage through the Marketplace.
Another option for consumers to enroll in coverage through a Marketplace is direct enrollment with insurance companies. Issuers may sign up consumers for Marketplace coverage from start to finish through direct enrollment. If consumers choose to directly enroll in a Marketplace plan through an insurance company, they can still go to HealthCare.gov to compare products, and choose the one that offers them the best value for their dollar. Prior to buying a health plan, consumers’ applications will be securely routed to the Marketplace website to assess their eligibility for coverage along with potential discounts on premiums and cost sharing.
The option of direct enrollment has been there from the start, but has been limited by earlier problems with the website. Recent bug fixes for HealthCare.gov have allowed CMS to announce that insurers in Florida, Texas, and Ohio are providing detailed feedback on their experiences to feed into our real-time work to make improvements for both consumers and insurers. This will help make direct enrollment a viable option for all issuers that wish to use this feature.
Some consumers may choose not to enroll online, and others may be served best by the call center or in-person assisters. CMS understands that some individuals are simply not comfortable shopping and enrolling online and would prefer to fill out and mail in a paper application.
Once the paper application has been received, processing time for the application is estimated to average 3-5 business days. The process will be longer if the consumer’s application is not complete or has errors, which will require the eligibility support contractor to make outbound calls to the consumer before processing has been completed.
Through all these channels, we are committed to meeting consumers where they are, helping them access affordable, quality insurance – many for the first time.
For more information, visit HealthCare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.