- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Although virtual insurance markets tied to the health care law will not enroll people for another two months, the Obama administration on Tuesday encouraged Americans who plan to use the state-based exchanges to set up an online account ahead of time.

In a newsletter, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said consumers can be “one step closer” to enrollment in the exchange by providing basic information — such as their name, address and email — and setting up a username and password at healthcare.gov.

“When open enrollment begins October 1, you’ll be set up to apply for health coverage, compare plans side-by-side, and enroll in a plan,” the newsletter said. “Create your account today! And after you’ve set up your account, make sure to tell your family and friends to set up theirs too.”

The administration’s push comes as the White House, its nonprofit allies and volunteers scramble to notify eligible Americans about benefits under the Affordable Care Act. In particular, they hope enough young and healthy people sign up for the exchanges, where those without employer-based health coverage can buy insurance that takes effect Jan. 1 through the help of government subsidies.

Healthier consumers are needed to balance out the risk pool and keep premiums in check, now that insurers cannot reject people for having pre-existing medical conditions.

The administration’s promotion efforts also coincide with Congress’ August recess, during which conservative lawmakers and groups will urge activists and colleagues to support a plan to “defund” the controversial law as part of an upcoming debate in Washington over government spending.

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