Healthcare gets makeover for fall enrollment drive

The Obama administration is giving a makeover to its much-maligned health insurance website this fall, promising smoother and simpler sign-ups for thousands of people. 

About 70 percent of new customers will be able to use a new, shorter form when they log onto the federal website,, on Nov. 15. 

{mosads}The user-friendly version will require people to answer fewer questions, scroll through fewer screens and will save their answers if they want to jump back to other parts of the application, officials told The New York Times, which first reported the overhaul on Tuesday. 

“The streamlined application will allow people to get through the process a lot faster,” Andrew M. Slavitt, who steers the website for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told the Times

The administration said it would roll out the changes gradually over the next two months to ensure that the website is fully functional by Nov. 15, when exchanges open for the second year.

Applicants with “more complicated household scenarios” will be asked to use the traditional form. That includes families who do not have the same permanent address, parents who are responsible for a child who is not on their tax return, or individuals with dependents who are not on their tax return. 

The poorly functioning website was one of the biggest complaints about the new healthcare law when launched last fall. 

The Obama administration has since brought in new leadership to help give the website a fresh start in its second year. In addition to hiring Slavitt away from the private sector to improve the website, the Obama administration also tapped Sylvia Mathews Burwell to replace former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. 

Despite last year’s shaky launch, 7.3 million people are now paying health insurance customers, purchased through the federal health insurance exchanges — about 1 million people more than officials expected. 

While most people have said they are satisfied with their plans, two-thirds said they were turned off by their experiences using the federal exchange, according to a poll released last week by the nonpartisan think tank, Commonwealth Fund.

Tags CMS HHS Kathleen Sebelius Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Sylvia Mathews Burwell
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