NASE News

HHS Debuts Web Portal With Health Information For Consumers

As required by the health reform law, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently launched a web portal, HealthCare.gov, to help consumers sort through the health insurance options available to them.

HealthCare.gov will allow individuals and small businesses to have more control over their own health care by providing them with information about insurance options available in their state. The portal helps consumers research and compare private health insurance plans from dozens of insurers, and determine their eligibility for existing public insurance programs like Medicare, CHIP and the new high-risk pools for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Currently, the portal allows users to enter some demographic information, and then suggests health insurance options the consumer should look into based on the demographic information they entered, as well as health advice, information on small business tax credits and the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.

In October 2010, HHS will upgrade the portal with new information and advanced functionality. As information is collected from insurers and compiled into a central and easily accessible format, the portal will provide more detailed pricing and benefit information, as well as show cost-sharing per service, deductibles and premiums for private insurance options. The updated portal will have plan compare functionalities and more details on eligibility for and the services covered by state Medicaid and CHIP programs. Additionally, the update will include more information on the federal high-risk pool program and state high risk pools, including information on premiums and cost-sharing.

The portal will help consumers evaluate their options in the private market with information such as plan names and types, summary of services provided, lists of network providers, links and contact information.
HealthCare.gov will allow consumers to access eligibility information, summary of services, and links and contact information for Medicaid and CHIP programs, while directing consumers existing Medicare websites and call centers.

Consumers will be able to access name and contact information for high-risk pools in order to obtain individual determinations of eligibility and enrollment through the portal, as well as view eligibility criteria for enrolling, coverage limitations and general premium descriptions.

Visitors to HealthCare.gov have the ability to give feedback to HHS about the portal by using the “comment” buttons that appear on the website.