Next Steps in Implementation of the Health Insurance Marketplace

by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted August 5, 2013

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working every day to implement the health care law that’s already helping millions of Americans.  And come October 1, it will help millions more when the Health Insurance Marketplace opens in every state.   

We’re already seeing how the Marketplace is increasing competition and giving consumers a better deal.  A number of states from California to Maryland to Vermont recently announced rates for some plans offered through the Marketplace that will be 20 percent less expensive than previously estimated, and include coverage of higher quality than those offered today.  New York announced that premiums for individuals enrolling through the state’s Marketplace could be 50 percent less costly than they generally are today.

Today, we are adding a new feature to HealthCare.gov that allows people to create a personal account – including a username and password – which is the first step to enroll in new coverage options in the Marketplace.

Today, we’re also launching a call center specifically to serve small businesses interested in the SHOP Marketplace.  As you know the SHOP program launches on October 1 to give small businesses new ways to provide coverage to their employees.  And this SHOP Marketplace Call Center is a new resource to help them get information to make the best decisions for their employees.  It’s open Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm and hours will expand after October 1, with customer service representatives available to help in English and Spanish.

We’ve also begun accepting applications from organizations interested in providing in-person assistance to consumers that want to enroll in the Marketplace and are beginning to make training resources available for those who will serve consumers in person during open enrollment. 

We’ve known all along that Washington can’t do this alone – but that was never the plan. The plan was always to engage our partners on the ground in every state to help spread the word and make sure their communities get enrolled in quality, affordable health coverage.  That’s why we’re pleased to see trusted community resources like our local libraries stepping up to help.

This week we’re excited to launch a “Champions for Coverage” initiative for organizations that want to work with us to help spread the word to people about the Marketplace.  And we’re pleased to see members of the business and health care communities joining in the effort to get their patients and customers enrolled. We’ve seen that with the partnership between Walgreens and Blue Cross Blue Shield, and CVS’s recent announcement that it plans to help educate its customers.

Over the last three years, I’ve traveled to more than 100 cities across nearly all 50 states talking about how the Affordable Care Act is delivering the change our country needed.  Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been in Phoenix and Chicago meeting with community health centers that were awarded critical grants to join our enrollment efforts.  Since 2012, our Department has held thousands of ACA events reaching millions of people in communities across the country.  Since July alone, we’ve held hundreds of outreach and enrollment activities that have reached nearly 50,000 people.  

And everywhere I go, I meet people who are excited to learn about the Marketplace and hungry for information and ways to help. That’s why we are doing everything we can to make sure we’re ready today so we can be ready October 1 – and we will be. In the coming months, I’ll continue traveling across the country to share information and spread the word.

As you’ve heard from the President and First Lady, this is an all-hands-on-deck approach. And all of HHS is engaging and reengaging people to make sure every American knows about the new opportunities available to them in this historic moment.