Another issue is site readiness. HealthCare.gov is being tested to ensure it will be ready for the expected millions of people searching and selecting plans, he said. But Counihan pivoted from a question about when the testing would be completed, saying only he was happy with the progress made thus far.
Later in the conference, Ben Walker, director of open enrollment at CCIIO, said testing would last a few weeks.
Counihan was able to confirm that all counties in the U.S. will have at least one plan to choose from this year and that overall there will be a 25% increase in the number of insures on the marketplace for 2015 open enrollment. When pressed, he was unable to say exactly how many counties lacked coverage options last year.
CMS spokesman Aaron Albright later clarified that all counties were covered in the individual market last year, but there were some gaps on the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. He would not say where the coverage lapses were but confirmed no gaps in either market are expected for 2015.
The CMS Tuesday night began sending out notices encouraging consumers to come back at the start of Open Enrollment on Nov. 15, update their 2015 application, and compare their options to make sure their current plan still meets their needs or to decide if they should switch to a new one.
There are now 7.3 million enrolled in exchange plans. An additional 13 million are expected to also sign up for coverage that starts in 2015, according to the Congressional Budget Office. New customers will have a more streamlined application compared to those who applied through Healthcare.gov last year. The new application has 17 screens to complete the sign-up process, compared to 76 screens last year, according to agency officials.
Returning consumers will still have to utilize the old application, but 90% of their online application will already be pre-populated.
Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson