HealthCare.gov is hoping to get a second chance to make a first impression. Thirteen and a half months after its infamously rocky launch, the ObamaCare federal health insurance exchange website opened for shopping on Sunday night. People can't enroll (or re-enroll) for next year's insurance policy until open enrollment starts Nov. 15, but the site will allow people to comparison-shop beforehand. The federal site serves 37 states.
Federal officials are encouraging people to return to window shop instead of automatically re-upping their plans from last year, because prices have dropped on a number of policies. The pre–open enrollment browsing was supposed to open Friday, and while "functionality has been ready for a while," says Andy Slavitt, HHS principal deputy administrator, "obviously we've been continuing to test it."
A new analysis of plans in 17 states and Washington, D.C., by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found average premiums dropping in six states, rising up to 5 percent in 10 states, and rising more than 5 percent in two. A separate Kaiser Family Foundation look at plans in 16 states found slightly lower prices in general, but changes ranging from a 8.7 percent hike to a 15.6 percent drop. if you live in one of the 37 states that uses the federal site, you can check prices and plans here.