A Spiffed-Up Website for Obamacare


Greater 'functionality' coming later this summer.

Using cheerful language betraying none of the angry politics of Obamacare, the Health and Human Services Department has unveiled a new version of its HealthCare.gov website to help consumers prepare for the Oct. 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act’s state-based health insurance exchanges.

“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.

The site touts its 24-hour-a-day call center using a home-page photo of a young woman -- perhaps in the cohort of so-called “young invincibles” who are seen as most reluctant to pay for health insurance.

Web designers plan this summer to add “functionality,” HHS says, so that consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application and shop for qualified health plans. The site will offer integrated social media, shareable content and engagement destinations, and a version for Spanish speakers is being offered at CuidadoDeSalud.gov . (Translators will also be available for 150 other languages.)

HHS asserts that, despite some news stories and auditors’ reports to the contrary, the exchanges are on schedule to open for enrollment on Oct. 1 and begin health coverage on Jan. 1, 2014.

Perhaps the only clue to the law’s divisiveness and the fact that 25 states are opting out of setting up their own exchanges is the drop-down menu that lets you find out what’s happening in your home state. It reads: “ Your state may be running the marketplace where you live. If it does, you'll use your state website, not this one, to apply for coverage.”