"This is one more way we are working to offer consumers a variety of ways to enroll in affordable coverage. Direct enrollment is one more option," Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services, wrote in a blog post Friday announcing the program. "By strengthening the multiple channels to enroll in quality, affordable coverage through the Marketplace, we are ensuring that every American who wants it can gain access to these new coverage options."
Companies will be able to check an applicant's eligibility for financial assistance by linking with HealthCare.gov, and they will be required to tell applicants that they can log onto the federal website to shop and compare plans.
The direct enrollment option was theoretically already available to insurers, Bataille wrote, but in practice it had been hindered by "recent problems with the website." She indicated that those problems had been fixed to the point that a pilot program could be launched to ensure that it would work smoothly before being expanded to more states and insurers.