Admin To Launch ‘Direct Enrollment’ Obamacare Pilots In Three States

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing ... Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the difficulties plaguing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. President Barack Obama's top health official faced tough questioning by a congressional committee Wednesday that will demand she explain how the administration stumbled so badly in its crippled online launch of the president's health care overhaul. (AP Photo/ J. Scott Applewhite) MORE LESS
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The Obama administration is launching a pilot program in Florida, Ohio, and Texas that will allow insurance companies to sign people up for coverage under Obamacare directly and forgo HealthCare.gov.

The administration has been considering the process, known as “direct enrollment,” for some time.

“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.

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