The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the start of “window shopping” for this open enrollment period. The window shopping period allows consumers to shop for plans without enrolling in advance of the exchanges formally opening next Tuesday. It also allows for agents, brokers, and other marketplace assistors to evaluate plans and pricing before enrollment begins. NAHU has long advocated for HHS to make this data available to consumers and agents/brokers in advance of open enrollment. This is the third year that window shopping has been available in advance of the beginning of open enrollment.
The window shopping period is accompanied by several supporting materials to help consumers and assisters evaluate plans: a landscape issue brief analyzing health plan data in the individual market; plan year 2017 Health Insurance Marketplace Public Use Files (PUFs) ; and the Qualified Health Plan (QHP) Landscape for 2017 that displays the available QHPs and Standalone Dental Plans (SADPs) by county in the health insurance marketplace. The PUFs contain data on certified QHPs and SADPs covering eight categories: (1) benefits and cost sharing; (2) plan attributes; (3) rates; (4) business rules; (5) service areas; (6) networks; (7) plan ID crosswalk; and (8) machine-readable. The QHP landscape files are: (1) individual medical marketplace; (2) SHOP medical marketplace; (3) individual dental marketplace; and (4) SHOP dental marketplace.
Additionally, during this year’s open enrollment period, the individual marketplace call center will be streamlining access for agents and brokers with an enhanced Agent/Broker Direct Line. The new direct line for agents and brokers is a progression from the additional support for agents and brokers that began last fall, and we will continue to work with the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for future enhancements to the direct line. NAHU has long advocated for additional call center support for agents and brokers since the federal marketplace opened in 2013. To reach the enhanced Agent/Broker Direct Line:
- Call (855) 788-6275
- Enter your National Producer Number (NPN) when prompted to enter your ID#
- Only registered agents/brokers with the marketplace will be able to access this enhanced service
- Valid NPNs will be updated weekly (typically on Fridays)
- When a valid NPN is entered, agents/brokers will be presented with three options:
- Password resets
- Special enrollment periods
- Other issues
- Agents/brokers entering invalid NPNs will be transferred to the main marketplace call center
Finally, all agents and brokers must complete the federal marketplace registration and training in order to assist consumers with enrollment through HealthCare.gov. NAHU members are encouraged to become certified through NAHU’s federal marketplace agent and broker training program, the only program operated by an agent/broker association. Offered through NAHU’s Online Learning Institute, our course includes webinar modules, a final exam, the ability to access our live help desk by phone or email to receive real-time assistance with technical questions, and the opportunity to earn continuing education credits issued on a state-by-state basis. Additionally, NAHU members can renew their certification for the low price of $57.99 (even those who completed training and certification on any platform last year—including through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services directly).