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Improved Window Shopping on HealthCare.gov to Help Consumers Enroll

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Monday, December 2, 2013

We’ve been making improvements to HealthCare.gov over the past several weeks to help consumers enroll in affordable health coverage, and today, we’ve launched an improved window shopping feature for consumers.

Consumers can now see more detailed information about each Marketplace plan offered in their area before applying. This new tool will display plan prices much more accurately, based on the household information entered. Consumers can compare plans, covered benefits, physician and hospital networks, and more. No login or application is required to access this feature. Just answer a few simple questions to see plans and prices in your area.

Consumers will still need to complete the Marketplace application to find out if they qualify for lower costs, but this new tool is a much enhanced version of an earlier one, and one more way consumers can get information to help them get ready to enroll and find a plan that fits their needs and budget.

Today, we also provided an update on a few metrics and examples of additional fixes we’ve put in place:

  • As of noon today (from 12am to 12pm), we had seen 375,000 visitors to HealthCare.gov – consumers who are learning, applying, shopping and enrolling.  Yesterday, we explained that the site can handle more than 800,000 visitors a day, and we are on pace for that to happen today.
  • Due to the demand we’re seeing, we’ve deployed our new customer queuing system, or waiting room, to help manage traffic. At approximately 10 am, our operations team - monitoring traffic patterns in real time - put the queuing system in place when they saw response times and error messages start to appear for consumers in the application process. Over the twelve hours from midnight to noon, the response time was more than 2 seconds and error rate averaged 0.9 percent.
  • Over the last several weeks, we’ve made a number of changes to improve the accuracy of the “834” messages to issuers.  The team, working with issuers, determined that more than 80 percent of 834 production errors were due to a bug that prevented a Social Security number from being included in the application, which in turn caused the system not to generate an 834. That bug has been fixed. Other issues related to the remaining 834 production issues have either been fixed or are in testing so that the fixes can be deployed soon.


This post is no longer accepting comments. If you want to learn more about the Affordable Care Act, please visithhs.gov/healthcare. If you have question about or need assistance with health insurance enrollment, please visithttps://www.healthcare.gov/contact-us/.

Join the Conversation


Submitted by Georgette on
What is an "834?" It is referred to, but not defined.
Submitted by James Wimberley on
The 834 form is the electronic file that healthgov sends the insurer when you have chosen a policy. You never see it. It is supposed to encapsulate the data you have supplied, and that Experian, Social Security and IRS have added to, in a rigidly standardized format used within the healthcare and insurance industry. There have been a lot of problems with errors in these forms, which present insurers with a puzzle rather than a tidy file easy for processing. See Sarah Kliff's posts on Wonkblog at WAPO for more. Practically, these errors mean that it's possible to get your eligibility document, choose a policy, sign up online - and then hear nothing. Your bet bet then is to contact the insurer directly. If they still can't match you to an 824, try to email them the eligibility pdf and sign up by phone or fax.
Submitted by anonymous on
People who earn more than 400% of poverty level will NOT qualify for a subsidy on the marketplace and therefore should probably get coverage directly through the Insurance company. It doesn't make any sense to apply through the marketplace if you "know" that your income is too high! This information has been out there for months! Please... do some research people...It amazes me how uninformed people are....I am starting to think that a lot of the problems/issues/complaints people are voicing may be self-inflicted. Get pro-active and help yourself by being informed and by all means, if you are "stuck" with an old application, delete it and start over as has been suggested over and over again.....Good luck....sincerely
Submitted by Computer Expert on
There is no need to restart your computer or browser when logging on with different accounts. You will want to delete cookies and cache between logons with different user accounts, but really cookies are the only thing that matter. Most browsers have an easy keyboard shortcut to do this with the key combination Ctr-Shift-Delete. Easier still is using the 'Private browsing' feature in Firefox, which does not even require deleting cookies in between and allows for running several logins simultaneously in different private windows. Firefox will work just as fine or better as IE or Chrome.
Submitted by Glynis on
I would not suggest Firefox. It is problemmatic for many many people. It does not work for me and I've tried everything I know and I still can't get it to display pages correctly or show buttons.
Submitted by Computer Expert on
You may want to make sure you are running the latest version and that you are not bugged by unnecessary add-ons. Firefox has, in fact, been invaluable in working around the most troublesome early defects of the Marketplace in October-November, thanks to the excellent Firebug debugging extension - as explained elsewhere. Other than that, there's nothing wrong with using your preferred browser as long as it is up to date and standards compliant. If you have documented and repeatable evidence that a certain browser does not work, please present your data.
Submitted by Glenn Thomas on
I've learned being IT support tech that issues logging into the site maybe due to browser installed or needs to be update on the client end. I installed Safari and go in with no issues. I recommend installing Safari browser which is standard on Mac and available on Windows.
Submitted by BC on
AFTER being totally frustrated since October 1st, I gathered some info .... then attempted a "work-around" to the problem of being in an eternal 'stuck' mode. IF you know what insurance plan you want and the specific company, check to see if that company has the plans listed on their website. In my case the insurance company had all the plans listed and has been very proactive. This is what I did to obtain insurance in a painless fashion: * create an account on THE INSURANCE WEBSITE [i.e. BC/BS] * select the plan you want * the site directs you to the marketplace * you will be requested to create an account [make sure to use a different email address ... create one on gmail.com if need be] * fill in the application >> IMPORTANT POINT ... REMEMBER TO ADD ADDITIONS OR DEDUCTIONS to your annual salary. I missed this or it assumes you will take this into account for your annual salary. In my case I'm getting HALF the tax credit I was originally getting * once your application is complete, you'll get immediate notification of the plan you selected, the tax credit and your new application ID # * you will also get a notification that the insurance company will be contacting you for payment I also contacted the insurance company to verify their receipt of my application and I have already been issued a Group & ID number. Some other "opinions" ... * It's "my opinion" that the early bird will not get the worm. NO ONE at the marketplace [including supervisors] were able to tell me why my first PDF application [from 10.2.13] was blank or why the second one [mid-October] was going no where. * I was told to NOT create another account as it would delay getting coverage. However if I did not take the above approach, I don't believe I would have gotten insurance for a January 1st start date. By creating this 3rd account, I obtained coverage within AN HOUR! * This info was passed along to key people at the CMS.gov .... never heard back from anyone. DO NOT SIT BACK AND WAIT .... be as proactive as possible to obtain insurance. The later in the month it gets, you'll find places will be closed for the holidays. I hope this info helps ... best of luck!
Submitted by Jim on
I enrolled with a plan on Nov 26. I have not heard a word from Marketplace or the insurance company since then. As a suggestion, it would be nice to have Marketplace send a confirmation email when enrollment is complete with the details of what was signed up and what to expect next. Also, it would be nice to have a confirmation email from Marketplace that they have sent my data to the insurance company. It would eliminate time consuming phone calls to Marketplace and the insurance company while I wait in anticipation for something in snail mail.
Submitted by Glynis on
I read that the information is being sent to insurers in a nightly batch. If you haven't heard from your insurer by now you should call them. If they haven't gotten anything then you'll need to call the 800 number and ask them about resending that information to the insurer.
Submitted by Bonnie on
I have read all the post here and was stuck with 'in progress' since October 7th. I listened to Glynis and did as he said. Now I have a completed application and received new cards in the mail from BC/BS with effective date of January 1, 2014. Thanks Glynis so much for all your help!
Submitted by Glynis on
You're welcome. I'm glad to know you received your cards already. Thanks for coming back and posting that it worked. Having done support for major software rollouts I know that sometimes the problems are with what's installed on the computer and how it's set up. That's why I keep recommending to use the current up to date browser and java plugin. And to delete cookies, temporary internet files, and history so there is nothing saved on the computer from a previous login session. And now that there is a remove/reset option to delete an application people who are stuck need to start over. With all of the software glitches and changes a new application will work much better.
Submitted by Karen on
Are the telephone help operators able to look up an application by id number now? I didn't put in my ss number so everytime I call for help they can't find my application. They could only look it up by a social security number.
Submitted by Roger on
Since maintenance done to website on 12/1 around 6 pm have not been able to log in. Have had no problems the past 2 months logging in. I get the yellow triange with Error on page on both the home page and log in page. Double click the yellow triangle and get the following Webpage error details: User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET4.0C; McAfee) Timestamp: Tue, 3 Dec 2013 06:29:52 UTC Message: Script error Prum.min.js Line: 0 Char: 0 Code: 0 URI: https://rum-static.pingdom.net/prum.min.js From what I have read this is a function built in to the webpage to monitor traffic. I have tried all the recommended fixes. Clearing history, temp files, caches, etc. Also tried a different computer using Vista, I am using XP. I even tried in Safe Mode and get the same. How can you log in for 2 months with no log in problems and then after about a 2 hour maintenance to the website not be able to log in for 2 days and this webpage script error suddenly show up. I enter username and password, click Log In and the Log In page comes back up with the username and password blocks are blank. Anyone else with this problem or some recommended fixes that are not already on the web.
Submitted by tony on
I have same problem was able to log in for 2 mos...last two days cant log in after their maint... called cust serv they dont have clue....and chat is completely worthless....
Submitted by Phyllis on
This worked for me too
Submitted by Glynis on
Looks like you're using Firefox which causes problems for people. Personally, I can't use Firefox at all. The page display is odd and buttons don't show up. Chrome is working better probably because it has minimal features. Also need to make sure your java plugin is up to date. Also reset your password by clicking on the 'forgot your password' link to make sure that your account didn't somehow get corrupted with that update. You didn't mention clearing your cookies but I assume you're doing that with the rest.
Submitted by K on
At the plans you can look at without an account. They should showed estimated prices with subsidy deduction for people that might qualify for subsidy. Just do not say that prices might be lower if you qualify for a subsidy.
Submitted by James Wimberley on
Today's post is much more specific and informative than previous ones, Thanks, Julie. I notice however that you don't say when the major fix to the 834 forms was introduced - a few weeks ago or yesterday? I'm really looking forward to the report on November applications and enrolments. I 'm betting that this will be much better than press reports and managed leaks suggest. WAPO says 149,000 private enrolments in November: which is strange seeing as on November 2 there were over 600,000 people that healthgov had determined eligible for marketplace policies, and had not yet chosen one. The only way to get from that to only 149,000 enrolments is if the 834 process was completely broken, not just error-prone. Two suggestions: - Move to a fortnightly update report for healthgov itself, as many of the state sites do. Reconciling all the the state data is difficult and time-consuming, so leave that on a monthly cycle, Frankly, you no longer have anything to hide. - Have a modern presentation with good charts as well as tables, and proper typography. Read Tufte first, or hire someone who has.
Submitted by Maria on
Is there a wait time from when I uploaded documents showing proof of citizenship and when I can finish the enrollment? The site tells me my application has been submitted and processed. I have the "Continue Enrollment" button when I click on it I go to the Select a Health Plan page but no plans appear. I see the check boxes and choices on the left for Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver, etc., but no matter what I click on, nothing appears. I have deleted my history, cache, etc., pop-ups are not blocked and I have logged-in on two different Macs, a Windows laptop with Safari, Firefox, and IE. This has been happening for a few days, I even "Removed" the application and created a new one, same problem. Has this happened to anyone else? What's the solution?
Submitted by John on
Yes, I am having the exact same issue (no plans displayed on the enrollment page even though I have been approved) and have had no success resolving it. Guess we are both in the "20%." When calling support they refused to escalate the problem, and said they would record it as "site feedback." Nor did they acknowledge that others were experiencing it or suggest any solutions.
Submitted by Howe on
I signed up yesterday, and got a premium tax credit. Then, when I logged in today, my tax credit changed! They lowered it by 30 bucks! Where did my money go? I'm getting screwed over here.
Submitted by Jason on
Where did my money go? I'm getting screwed over here....? Its not YOUR money. Its mine and everyone's. I understand your point, and frustration, but its not your money. Drop the sense of entitlement and be thankful for what you have.
Submitted by Howe on
I want to know why my tax credit has changed so drastically, in less than a day! I thought it was calculated from my previous income, so the value should be relatively fixed. It should not change. People choose their health plan based on their tax credit, so if you change my tax credit, you jeopardize my choice.
Submitted by beverly on
I sure wish I could log in. Healthcare.gov arbitrarily changed my password and never told me. They sent me the new password, but it doesn't work. I changed the password myself, and that password doesn't work either. So now I can't log in at all. The customer service reps and the advanced resolution specialists can't help either. I'm stuck in limbo and ready to enroll.