Dec 12, 2018

HHS edited HealthCare.gov to prioritize private enrollment options

HealthCare.gov homepage. Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The Health and Human Services Department edited HealthCare.gov in a way that seems to subtly steer people toward other, private enrollment options, according to a review by the Sunlight Foundation.

Details: The edits, which were made roughly two weeks into the six-week enrollment period, affect the “How to Apply & Enroll” page on HealthCare.gov.

  • Two enrollment options — phone and mail — were removed altogether. Unpaid enrollment “assisters,” whose budgets have been cut significantly, were rolled in with agents and brokers.
  • The option to use HealthCare.gov went from the first option listed to the last.
  • Above it are links to external enrollment sites run by for-profit companies, including insurers’ websites. That’s consistent with HHS’ desire to open up more “direct enrollment” pathways, but some of those pathways may not list all of consumers’ options.

My thought bubble: On the merits, this does not seem particularly likely to set back overall enrollment very much. Hardly anyone enrolls by mail, and other parts of HealthCare.gov, including its homepage, still list the number of the call center for people who want help over the phone.

  • Still, coming as it does on top of outreach cuts and policy changes that weaken the Affordable Care Act, don’t be surprised if this sparks new criticism from the law’s supporters.

Go deeper

World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes carrying protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 930,000 and the global death toll exceeded 46,000 on Wednesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 13,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. 1 future thing: Shifts to telemedicine, at-home diagnostics, and drone delivery are all likely lasting consequences from this pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases surpass 200,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Positive cases of the novel coronavirus passed 213,000 on Wednesday — nearly twice as many as Italy, per Johns Hopkins — as more state governors issued stay-at-home orders for Americans to curb infection.

The state of play: Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Health