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Official: Parts of Health Site Consumers Need Are Ready

4:01 PM, Nov 19, 2013   |    comments
Henry Chao, deputy CIO and deputy director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of Information Services, testifies during a hearing before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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By Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - The reference by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' chief information officer that 30% to 40% of the HealthCare.gov website was not complete did not refer to sections needed to select or buy insurance, the agency's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Henry Chao, the agency's information officer, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday that the technology team fixing the troubled website still has to build large chunks of the systems needed to support the site.

Julie Bataille, the CMS spokeswoman, said the section of the site Chao mentioned was not needed until the middle of January.

The parts of the site that consumers need to use went online Oct. 1, she said, while the sections Chao mentioned have "more to do with back-end financial management."

That portion will be up by mid-January.

"It is not anything that is necessary for consumers to make a payment because that is something they do outside of the market directly to insurers," she said. The unbuilt portion makes sure insurers receive subsidy payments after people have enrolled in a plan.

The HealthCare.gov site was upgraded again Monday night, Bataille said, and workers have fixed two-thirds of the bugs on the high-priority list.

Users can choose the appropriate relationship to a dependent and can more easily see both the minimum and maximum plan deductibles. The site can determine a family's primary taxpayer, making it easier to determine if a person is eligible for a subsidy to pay for insurance, Bataille said.

She said people can go through an insurer, then check to see if they have a subsidy through the federal government's data hub, a process called direct enrollment, as well as continuing to sign up over the phone or in person.

 

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