Obamacare Updates Site, Will Public Respond?

The healthcare enrollment period is set to open on November 15, and predictions are rolling out about how many Americans will be giving the Obamacare insurance exchange website a chance. Last year's open enrollment period was plagued by technical difficulties at HealthCare.gov, but administration officials are encouraging the public by explaining that the online health care exchange system has been updated to improve the ease of use for insurance shoppers and minimize frustrations. As US Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told Reuters, "Open enrollment this year will be a positive experience for the consumer." As Reuters points out, however, Burwell also tempered expectations, predicting that some things "will go wrong ... we will have outages. We will have down time." According to The Guardian, "Administration officials said on Sunday they would get it right this time, with a website that will make it easier to shop for coverage and enough computing capacity, call-center help and other resources to handle re-enrollment of all current policyholders. “We are strongly encouraging our customers to return to healthcare.gov ... Shop and compare. The majority will be able to save money,” said Kevin Counihan, chief executive officer of the federal health insurance marketplace, adding that particularly applied to those who may have overlooked available federal tax credits last year." US News and World Report cites a survey from Bankrate.com that asked: "Do you think you or anyone in your household will again shop in an insurance exchange website this fall?" Regarding the results of that data, US News says, "Whether consumers feel confident or not, however, will have little impact on their health insurance coverage unless they actively choose to change plans or cancel the ones they have. Obamacare provides for automatic re-enrollment for people who do not log on to online exchanges and shop for new health insurance. All survey respondents came from households that used the exchanges during open enrollment last fall and winter, with 51 percent saying they would not use the exchange again in the new season, while 43 percent saying they would." Additionally, "Among those who used the exchanges last year, 52 percent reported a positive experience, and 53 percent feel confident that the online health insurance marketplace will operate smoothly this year. These figures show an improvement in consumer confidence since a Bankrate survey conducted in August, in which 39 percent of the general population say they thought the exchanges would work well during the new signup season that begins Nov. 15. Mark Schlesinger, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, says in the release about the survey that consumer discontent likely varies widely by location – some states have implemented their own websites for people to buy insurance, while others have defaulted to Healthcare.gov, the one created by the federal government.Thirteen states, including California, New York and Kentucky, have created their own online marketplaces." What has your experience been with HealthCare.gov? Are you planning to use it this month? To see more analysis of these statistics and articles, visit: US News & World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/11/04/health-care-exchange-users-leery-of-updated-obamacare-website The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/09/obamacare-website-updated-2015-enrollment Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/10/usa-healthcare-enrollment-idUSL2N0T01JF20141110

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