BOISE – While the federal government continues to fix glitches with the federal exchange website, Idaho is making changes to its own website with the hopes of making it easier for Idahoans to get the information they need.
Essentially, up until now, www.yourhealthidaho.org has been just an entry page to the federal exchange, but now there's more content available.
If you want to sign up for the exchange, you still need to use the federal site, but you can now side step the federal website and get plan information on Idaho's website.
And while Your Health Idaho admits the website is a work in progress, some say it's heading in the right direction.
The visual changes made to yourhealthidaho.org can easily be missed. The changes can be found in the middle of the page, in green boxes. Those boxes contain information and links that were not available before.
Now you can look up plan details, get an estimate on government subsidies and download a paper application.
"They're going to be informed before they even apply, and now once they have the information available to them, they can make the phone call, be determined for a subsidy amount and actually enroll in a plan they've already learned about," said Alberto Gonzalez, Operations Project Manager for Your Health Idaho.
That's the benefit of the changes; know about all of the plans and potential government subsidies before you apply for the exchange.
Trish Quarles is a benefit consultant with PayneWest Insurance. Problems with the federal exchange website have kept her clients from signing up for the exchange, and in turn caused a lot of frustration.
She says she likes the changes.
"Consumers like to have information and facts prior to a purchasing decision and so I'm a great advocate that consumers can now go onto the website and have access to facts," said Quarles.
While the changes are an improvement, more needs to be done. Gonzalez says the website is a work in progress, adding they'll continue to make beneficial changes.
"It's definitely a widespread frustration and we're trying to do everything we can to make the experience as best as possible," said Gonzalez.
One of those upcoming changes is a more comprehensive shopping tool. There you can compare plans side by side. There will also be a more accurate subsidy calculator.
Both of those are a few weeks away.
Gonzalez says the preferred way to buy health insurance is still through the federal website, but if you can't do it that way, and a lot of people can't, the changes to the website make it easier for you to get plan details. From there you can call in to make your purchase.
If you don't want to do it that way you can download the application and mail it in, but that can take several weeks.
Again, the Obama Administration pushed back the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the exchange.
The new deadline is March 31st.