HealthCare.gov is open for business once again, although right now you can only window-shop.
A reconfigured version of the Affordable Healthcare Act’s website went live Sunday night. It has been retooled to increase user-friendliness, after last year’s notoriously rocky start, which required users to fill out an extensive questionnaire on the frequently crashing website.
New updates, however, see the addition of user-friendly features — most notably, anonymous window shopping. Where last year’s users had to fill out the questionnaire before being able to view the available plans, now it’s possible to compare policies and make a decision without entering in your personal information.
This window-shopping feature will also likely lighten the computing load for the site, because users won’t have to get all the way through the questionnaire to view the plans. They can “make up their minds before moving to the more data-intensive process of actually signing up,” said Andy Slavitt, a deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
Antoinette Kraus, director of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Health Access Network, says the actual process of signing up for insurance will be much easier than last year, with customers only having to pass through a dozen or so screens, instead of last year’s 72.
“This is why it is so important that any business or organization’s website is user friendly, it doesn’t only make it easier for the visitor but also for the website owner,” says Jorge Benito of Ibis Studio.
The site went live Sunday night, to give users the opportunity to look at insurance policies and prices a week before the second enrollment period begins. Users will be able to sort plans by the amount of the premium and the size of the deductible, as well as view any plans that have special programs for certain conditions.
The new enrollment period begins Saturday, November 15, and will last until February 15. During this time, new customers can sign up, and existing policyholders can switch providers. Policyholders who don’t make changes will be automatically re-enrolled under their existing contracts.
The window shopping feature is available at http://www.healthcare.gov/see-plans/.