Ehealth Inc., a large Internet health insurance broker, has been named to help operate the new federal health website, making it one of the first private companies to get a major contract from the federal government under the nation's new health law.
The Obama administration awarded eHealth a $19.3 million contract to expand the new federal website, www.healthcare.gov, designed to help people shop for health coverage.
Ehealth, a Mountain View, Calif., company that runs its own website , was considered a favorite to win the federal job because it already helps millions of consumers comparison shop for private health coverage.
The federal website is more extensive because it gives consumers information on government health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as providing a listing of the health plans available in each state for individuals and small groups, including contact information and links to doctors and hospitals in each plan's network. The site was created by the new health law and launched July 1.
But beginning in October, with the help of eHealth Inc.'s software, the site will start providing detailed cost and benefits information for private health plans.
But even after the website is updated, consumers will still not be able to sign up for new plans directly from the site. To do that, consumers can go directly to the health plan website or to the eHealthInsurance site.
Ehealth Inc. officials on Friday confirmed they won the contract but declined further comment. Federal officials said the grant will run about 4 1/2 years.
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