The Department of Health and Human Services launched its website Healthcare.gov on July 1. The goal of Healthcare.gov is to assist citizens attempting to make sense of the most obfuscated industry in history.
“Healthcare.gov will take some of the mystery out of shopping for health insurance,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on the White House blog the day of the launch.
The website Healthcare.gov and the July 1 launch date were mandated by the new healthcare reform legislation, the Affordable Health Care Act. Healthcare.gov is intended to be a one-stop-shopping source for individuals looking for health care insurance coverage. After answering a few questions about their age, health status, family size, and location, users are provided with a list of health insurance plans and links to plan details.
The site does not have prices listed as of yet. However, a note in the margins says that prices will be available on Healthcare.gov by October. Even though you cannot sign up for a plan directly on the site, Healthcare.gov does provide phone numbers, links, and contact information to private insurers offering the health care plan.
Healthcare.gov: Solution or Healthcare Redundancy?
The site is clean and very simple to use. However, it appears little different from ehealthinsurance.com, or any of the dozens of websites that already provide this information. On those sites, plans can be purchased. Prices are listed. So far, it is unclear what actual benefit Healthcare.gov provides over the commercial websites already available for finding a healthcare plan.
Presumably, it will allay fears consumers have of health insurance companies and their questionable ethics and business practices. However, with Congress’s approval rating hovering around 20 percent and dipping as low as 14 percent in 2008, how many Americans trust the government?
Hopefully, Healthcare.gov will become a good resource for individuals struggling to find a health insurance plan that will cover a pre-existing conditions or other health care difficulties. However, as of yet, it provides no new solutions. If you type in “senior struggling to cover the costs of a health condition under Medicare,” the site’s solution is Medicaid.
“Is this information helpful?” the site asks. No, not really.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Announcing HealthCare.gov, White House Blog
Aina Hunter, Healthcare.gov Is Now Up and Running: Will It Really Improve Health Care?, CBS News
Jeffrey M. Jones, Low Approval of Congress Points to High Seat Change in Nov., Gallup
Peter Grier, Healthcare.gov: How to figure out your health care options, Christian Science Monitor