Obamacare Hotline Opens to Market Law 100 Days Prior to Start-Up

A U.S. hotline for questions about the medical-insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act has been activated, just 100 days before the uninsured can start signing up for coverage.

The hotline, at 1-800-318-2596, and a redesigned government website that was also put in place today are part of an Obama Administration push to better educate Americans about a law that continues to mystify, according to recent surveys. The Kaiser Family Foundation said in April that 42 percent of people it surveyed weren’t sure the law was still on the books.

The phone line and website are the public face of the new online marketplaces that will start selling insurance plans on Oct. 1 for people who don’t have it through work. The coverage, which in some cases will be subsidized, takes effect January 1. The administration estimates it needs to convince about 2.6 million young, healthy people to sign up for exchange coverage to balance the risk presented by millions of older or sicker people who may flock to the marketplaces.

For now, the services “will help consumers prepare for the new coverage opportunities coming later this year,” Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. Tavenner’s agency supervises the website and call-in line.

The Congressional Budget Office expects about 7 million people to obtain insurance through the services next year, rising to 24 million by 2023.

The telephone service asks callers to provide their home state and then offers information on how the exchange works and what information will be required to enroll in plans. A live representative can be reached through the automated menu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.