WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- A website to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and eventually sign up for private health insurance launched Monday, the Obama administration said.
The HealthCare.gov website and a 'round-the-clock consumer call center will help Americans understand their choices and select coverage that best meets their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1, the Health and Human Services Department said in a release.
"The new website and toll-free number have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families or their businesses," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.
Key features of the website include integration of social media, sharable content and participatory destinations for consumers to get more information. The site also has a Web chat functionality.
From now until open enrollment begins Oct. 1, the call center will provide educational information, the department said. After Oct. 1, it will assist consumers with application completion and plan selection.
"Beginning Oct. 1, a new health insurance market place will open in every state, giving Americans a whole new way to shop for health insurance," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a media briefing. "For the first time in the history of the private insurance market, consumers will be able to go to one place to check out their coverage options, get accurate information in easy to understand language, and make apples to apples comparisons of plans before they make their decision."