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Sen. Bill Nelson pushes to allow insurers to enroll consumers without depending on health exchange

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Sen. Bill Nelson is among eight Democratic leaders pushing the Dept. of Health and Human Services to allow insurance companies and online brokers to enroll consumers eligible for subsidized healthcare with greater independence from Healthcare.gov, Health News Florida reports. 

Although the administration announced that insurers in Ohio, Florida and Texas are testing fixes to the website that may solve the difficulties many insurers and brokers are having in enrolling consumers directly who are eligible for subsidies, insurance companies, and Sen. Nelson, want something more. 

The current fix for insurers routes applicants from their private websites to Healthcare.gov specifically for subsidy determinations and then back again to the private websites.  During that re-routing, insurers and brokers are running into the same error messages and other problems experienced by consumers, preventing many from completing enrollment, Kaiser Health News reports.

Online brokers and insurers would like to link directly to the federal data hub, routing the applicant's information to the IRS and other agencies for verification.    

But analysts say that security and privacy concerns may prevent the Obama administration from allowing direct access. In addition, enrolling consumers independently of Healthcare.gov could potentially mean uneven or misleading exposure to information about their healthcare choices, It's also important for federal subsidies to be determined at the source rather than through insurers. 

But a direct link between insurers and the federal data hub would be good for business, especially for Florida Blue with its 18 retail centers, Health News Florida says.

"Healthcare.gov may not be the enrollment answer for all Americans," the senators including Nelson wrote in their letter to HHS.

Nelson, who is up for reelection, received $16,250 from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida in the 2012 election cycle. 

   

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