Feds release revamped “window shopping” tool for upcoming Obamacare open enrollment

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The federal government is making available to consumers a new “window shopping” feature so they can compare plans days before the second round of open enrollment in Obamcare opens on Saturday.

Beginning today, people can begin comparing federally approved health plans after entering the their zip codes in the retooled window shopping website. They can also add information about their income and family to get a better idea of  costs but aren’t required to do so in order to get the plan information.

Last year, a consumer had to answer nine questions before plan information was available for review, a press release issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated on Sunday. Additionally people had to create an account before they could compare plans.

Open enrollment for the federal health program — often referred to as Obamacare –begins Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15, 2015.

The site an be used with a smart phone or tablets. “Using this tool, consumers can compare plans, covered benefits and physician and hospital networks,” before open enrollment, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in the release.

There are 14 companies offering individual plans through the exchange. There are  19 companies offering Affordable Care Act compliant plans; six of those companies are offering the group plans through the exchange,  press releases from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation show.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the United States on Friday agreed to hear a lawsuit that challenges the insurance subsidies made available to individuals who purchase plans through the federal health insurance exchange.

The case–King v Burwell–challenges the subsidies because a portion of the law notes hat the subsidies are only available to people who enrolled “through an exchange established by the state.”  Nearly 1 million Floridians enrolled in Obamacare through the federal exchange.