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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that is has revamped its healthcare.gov website and launched a 24-hour-a-day consumer call center to help Americans prepare for the health insurance marketplaces to open Oct. 1.
"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 news release.
According to HHS, the website will add functionality during the summer so that, by October, consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application and shop for qualified health plans. The site also has Web chat capabilities to support additional consumer inquiries. For Spanish-speaking consumers, CuidadoDeSalud.gov also will be updated.
The website is built with a responsive design so that consumers may access it from their desktops, smartphones, and other mobile devices. In addition, an app is available at www.healthcare.gov/developers.
The consumer call center's number is 800-318-2596. Between now and the start of open enrollment, the center will provide educational information. Beginning Oct. 1, it will assist consumers with application completion and plan selection. In addition to English and Spanish, the call center provides assistance in more than 150 languages through an interpretation and translation service.
Despite recent reports by the U.S. Government Accountability Office saying "whether these efforts will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined," HHS said it is on target for open enrollment in the marketplace, which begins Oct. 1, 2013, and other key milestones approaching in the months ahead. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, 2014.
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