The new CEO of the federal health insurance marketplace, Kevin Counihan, knows there is room for improvement, but says new processes have ready for 2015 open enrollment.

Speaking Wednesday at a Washington conference sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans, Counihan outlined the following goals for as open enrollment opens on Nov. 15:

  • Maximize the enrollment of returning and new customers
  • Make certain affordable insurance products are on the shelf for consumers
  • Ensure data and payment systems are quick and accurate
  • Enhance the customer experience online

Counihan said to the room of insurance professionals that “each of you and your companies are playing a critical role in ensuring [these goals.]”
CMS is readying for 2015 open enrollment from both the technology and business prospective and testing has already begun with health plans. “We’ve had so far very encouraging reaction” with that testing, Counihan said. “[We] also received some very helpful comments from issuers on ways we could make some enhancements.”

Further, Counihan said data improvements have been made to, and technology infrastructure is being “significantly expanded.” Work continues on a payment system for the site.

New notices

On Tuesday, CMS began contacting consumers to remind them of the upcoming open enrollment process and sent a notice with five steps to staying covered:

1)      Review:  “Plans change, people change,” Counihan said.

2)      Update: Make sure information including income is up to date

3)      Compare: Current plans versus new plans

4)      Choose: Select the health plan that best meets a consumers budget and need

5)      Enroll: By December for Jan. 1 coverage.

Acknowledging that renewals are a new process, Counihan said CMS is prepared and knows "communication with consumers is important, we need to educate consumer. .... They should visit an in-person assister or broker to help them pick the best plan."
“This is just the beginning.” Counihan added. “We will continue to listen and learn from you, our consumers and other key stakeholders.”

Yet, Counihan noted that more bumps are likely. “We may not be able to fix everything in the first year, but we can figure out ways to implement changes,” he said. “This open enrollment [period] is the second half of the first year and we are in the bottom first of a nine-inning game.”

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