The New York Times reports that the Obama administration recently announced an updated website and a new call center designed to help citizens get enrolled into state exchanges. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration established the website and the call center in preparation for an influx of individuals who are expected to purchase coverage through the exchanges when open enrollment begins October 1. Secretary Sebelius said the new tools “have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families or their businesses”.
The call center will eventually have 9,000 employees in 11 states who can answer ACA-related questions in more than 100 languages. In anticipation of the high numbers of new consumers, HHS said the website (www.healthcare.gov) was built to handle more than 60 million visits annually and will offer a Spanish-language version of the site.
Secretary Sebelius also announced that the federal government is negotiating with health insurers over premium rates for plans sold through the federally run exchanges. HHS last year said it would not prohibit insurers that offered uncompetitive rates in federally run health insurance exchanges. However, the Secretary recently stated “We intend to do rate negotiation and make sure that the plans are going to offer consumers the best possible choices, as opposed to the law in some states … where a company comes in with the plan rates and you take what you get”.