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More useful HealthCare.gov tips, with screen shots

After the long-overdue addition of a window shopping feature, HealthCare.gov has continued to make improvements so fast it’s hard to keep up. One is that they’re putting out advice that’s actually useful to consumers—with screen shots to make the whole thing more intelligible.

One example, from blog post yesterday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a screenshot of what you will see when and if you get through the whole process and actually select a plan. It’s pictured at the top of the page.

That big orange box may look like an error message, but it’s not. It lets you know that you’re not officially insured until you pay your first month’s premium to your chosen insurance company in time to be received and processed by the effective date of coverage. Translation: do this ASAP.

When you click on the green “PAY FOR HEALTH PLAN” link, you will be taken away from HealthCare.gov and onto the insurer’s site, explained Tasha Bradley, an HHS spokeswoman. There you will see instructions on when your payment is due and how to make it. If you are in doubt about whether you’re truly enrolled, HHS advises calling the insurance company to double-check.

Another big deal is the creation of a “reset” button that allows you to erase an old application that may have become irretrievably stuck in electronic limbo, and start over (see the image at the bottom of the the page. Here are instructions, from the same blog: 

1. After logging in, select the application in process and hit the “REMOVE” link, as shown in the image below.

2. Close and re-open your browser.

3.  Log in again and start a new application.

Got a question for our health insurance expert? Ask it here; be sure to include the state you live in. And if you can't get enough health insurance news here, follow me on Twitter @NancyMetcalf.

Health reform countdown: We are doing an article a day on the new health care law until Jan. 1, 2014, when it takes full effect. (Read the previous posts in the series.) To get health insurance advice tailored to your situation, use our Health Law Helper, below.

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