The Obamacare website is getting a new look intended on simplifying the complicated process of shopping for an insurance plan.
According to a government document given to the Associated Press, the HealthCare.gov site is getting a makeover aimed at making it more “customer friendly.” Currently in final testing, the new tools and upgrades are expected to be live when the 2016 sign-up season starts on Nov. 1. The revamped site is also supposed to function on smartphones and tablets.
One new feature is a tool that will give health insurance shoppers a general estimate of expected total costs, taking into account premiums, copays and deductibles. While most people who are browsing plans focus on premiums when making their choice, they might be better off with a plan that carries a high premium but lower out-of-pocket costs. The new tool is meant to help customers find the plan best suited for their individual needs.
The new site is also expected to include other improvements. For example, users will no longer have to sort through multiple plans to find one that works for them. Instead, they’ll be able to plug in their doctors, hospitals and medications and immediately see what plans cover them.
The 2013 HealthCare.gov rollout was plagued with problems, including a design that forced customers to create an account so the government could verify their information before they were able to shop for specific plans. This original structure caused a huge traffic bottleneck that taxed the site’s capacity and left users frustrated and without information.
The new upgrades should improve the process of getting insurance, making it more like shopping on major retail sites. But the AP includes a reader tip that may be necessary given the rocky history of the HealthCare.gov site: “The system may not be perfect when they flip the switch. Call doctors and insurers to verify provider and hospital listings. And make sure to enter the correct name of any medications.”