Federal officials could make the troubled HealthCare.gov exchange website work better for young adults by implementing several small changes before the next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, according to an article published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Doctors, lawyers, health economists and health policy experts from the University of Pennsylvania observed and interviewed 33 highly educated young adults, who laid out how HealthCare.gov went wrong and made suggestions for how to fix it.
To increase the usability of HealthCare.gov, the subjects said they want real-time explanations of health insurance terminology, such as pop-up definitions and examples for complex cost concepts, such as deductibles.
The website also should emphasize free preventive coverage within each plan's details to encourage young adults to sign up for marketplace plans, given that they cited preventive services as a top coverage priority--but assumed they would get charged for it.
According to the study subjects, HealthCare.gov should prominently position sorting tools that let consumers filter plan options for cost and coverage details. They also said they want decision support tools, such as a best fit plan for people like themselves.
The Annals of Internal Medicine article also calls on federal health officials to rename the "catastrophic" insurance category--which is confusing and has a negative connotation--to something more neutral or positive, such as "value plan."
While these and other changes could enhance the enrollment process for young adults, the website's back-end operating system continues to suffer from problems. The function that accurately pays insurers was still missing as of April and HealthCare.gov has been unable to resolve many inconsistencies regarding subsidy eligibility.
- here's the article