In an announcement about HealthCare.gov, the initially glitch-plagued federal portal where consumers in 36 states can sign up for coverage, CMS' office of communications director Julie Bataille said, “We keep working to make the site even simpler and more user-friendly. The site continues to perform well—serving consumers with response times of less than half a second and error rates of less than half a percent.”
That's a much different picture than it was last fall, when HealthCare.gov's disastrous rollout worried consumers, healthcare providers, and policymakers who wondered whether the site would fix its technical and operational problems in time for Americans to enroll.
“There's no question that a significant corner has been turned,” Ron Pollack, executive director of consumer advocacy group Families USA, told Modern Healthcare. He expects momentum to continue throughout March.
The “first, second and third priority” for Families USA in the next month will be to enroll as many people as possible, Pollack said. Toward that goal, the group will continue to work on initiatives such as: building awareness among the Hispanic community, through television and other media, about the health reform law's coverage options; hosting media teleconferences to outline effective enrollment strategies; and serving as an information source to web site navigators and in-person assistants.
The primary focus over the next 31 days should be attracting the previously uninsured, said Sam Gibbs, president of eHealth Government Systems. The company operates eHealthInsurance.com, the nation's first private health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare insurance products and enroll online. The company also serves as a web broker with CMS to help people enroll in the exchange plans.
“One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to reduce the number of uninsured people,” Gibbs said in an e-mail. “However, a recent survey by McKinsey &Co. showed only 11 percent of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were previously uninsured. There needs to be greater focus on reaching those people.”