HHS begins educating public about exchanges with 100 days till enrollment

With less than 100 days until health insurance exchange enrollment kicks off, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has launched a new "education effort."

With a relaunched website and a 24/7 call center, HHS is helping consumers understand how they can obtain health coverage through the online marketplaces, the agency announced Monday.

"The new website and toll-free number have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families--or their businesses," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

The website, www.healthcare.gov, asks consumers questions about their age, gender, disability status and income to provide personalized information regarding eligibility status for federal funds and available plans that fit their specific needs. They also can create accounts, complete an application online and use a web chat to speak with customer service representatives.

"There are lots of visual cues" on the website because "people asked for that," Julie Bataille, director of the Office of Communications in HHS's Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, told USA Today. She added that the website shows the agency will be ready for open enrollment in October. "People have been working on this for more than a year."

HHS also may partner with the NFL to help promote the exchanges throughout the country, The Hill's Healthwatch reported. "We're having active discussions right now with a variety of sports affiliates" about both paid advertising and partnerships to encourage enrollment," Sebelius said during a media briefing Monday. "The NFL is enthusiastically engaged … and they see health promotion as a good thing for them and for the country."

To learn more:
- here's the HHS statement
- see the USA Today article
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article