In a memo distributed February 6, 2014 to insurers, federal health officials said that HealthCare.gov consumers may pick a different health plan before the end of March 2014 if they are dissatisfied with the one they chose, but only if they stay with the same insurer and the same general level of coverage.
The federal memo, obtained and reported on by the Washington Post, also says that consumers will be given more freedom and a longer opportunity to get a new health plan -- if they can prove that HealthCare.gov, the new health insurance marketplace website for 36 states, displayed inaccurate information about the benefits the health plan offered.
The new leeway for consumers comes after some policy holders discovered that the health plans they bought did not include their old doctors or did not allow them to add new children or spouses.
This new flexibility is similar to open enrollment rules with private health insurance. Most private insurance allows policyholders to switch to a different health plan during open enrollment periods.
Under the rules spelled out in the memo, HealthCare.gov consumers who switch must stay with the same insurer and tier of coverage. However, during open enrollment periods consumers might be able to switch insurers by refusing to pay their insurance premium so their insurer cancels their policy. The memo states that in this circumstance consumers can start over to apply for any plan.
HealthCare.gov has also made the following website updates to help make the website more user friendly:
The website now has a "report a life change" button to more easily report a qualifying life event such as a family addition, moving out of state, significant income change, etc. These types of life changes qualify consumers for a special enrollment period.
Consumers are now able to end their coverage with a two week notice.
A software glitch has been fixed which was causing people to be shuttled back and forth between HealthCare.gov and Medicaid.
Additional improvements to the website are expected this quarter.
At time of writing, the administration has not yet announced these changes in a public way.
Source: Washington Post
Image credit: healthcare.gov