With open enrollment fast approaching, the Obama administration is planning several changes to HealthCare.gov to ease enrollment in insurance plans and avoid last year’s problems, when the site crashed upon launch.  These changes include:

  •  A 16-screen application, reduced from 76 screens in the 2014 enrollment;
  • The addition of a “back button” that will allow enrollees to return to an earlier page to correct information if necessary, without having to restart the application, as was the case last year;
  • A streamlined verification process that will send the application information in a single batch rather than question by question, and;
  • A mobile function that will allow enrollment through smart phones and other devices.

Some problems are still anticipated, as enrollment for 2015 coverage is expected to grow to 13 million, with current policyholders who are renewing existing coverage as well as 5 to 6 million new enrollees.  Also, even though open enrollment will not end until February 15, 2015, those seeking coverage to continue or begin on January 1, 2015 will only have a month (from November 15 to December 15) to select a plan, which may significantly frontload the website’s traffic.

The new application has been tested by 20,000 consumers who were permitted to sign up for coverage after July due to special circumstances, and the updated website will continue to undergo beta-testing until launch. The administration plans to allow consumers to review 2015 health plans on the site beginning next week, roughly a week before open enrollment officially begins on November 15th.