The Obama administration has already debuted its new, improved version of HealthCare.gov, but still won’t release premium rates on the website until after the Nov. 4 elections.
The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the updated federal Obamacare exchange on Wednesday. The website is, by all accounts, in much better condition than last year.
HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell has said that the administration has put the new version of HealthCare.gov through its paces. And the administration has allowed insurers to test the site out themselves — although they made clear that insurance companies are not allowed to share their results with the media. (RELATED: Admin Forces Insurers To Keep Quiet About HealthCare.gov Problems)
And yet, although the website appears to be, finally, ready for primetime, the administration has still decided not to release premium rates on the website for another month, according to The Associated Press.
The open enrollment period begins Nov. 15, over a week after the Nov. 4 elections, and lasts just three months — half as long as the first open enrollment run. The GOP has urged the administration to release the rates as soon as they’re finalized so that customers have more time to budget (and presumably because hikes would be detrimental to Obamacare supporters come election time).
“The administration will know exactly what health insurance plans cost on November 3, and they should release that information to the public on that day so families can start to plan,” Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said last week, fearing the administration would “hide” rates until after the election.
Average premiums across the country are higher than last year on the Obamacare exchanges. The left has applauded lower rate increases in certain states; other states have been hit with ongoing double-digit rate hikes.
The administration says its constantly working to get HealthCare.gov ready for old customers to re-enroll and new customers to join Obamacare exchanges. While HHS has warned that this open enrollment period won’t be perfect, they’re confident that it won’t be a repeat of 2013’s disaster. Updates include a streamlined application for new sign-ups — last year’s 76-screen online application has been cut down to just 16 pages, the AP reports.