EHealth Inc., the nation's largest online seller of health insurance, is offering to run Obamacare enrollment for the federal government while the balky healthcare.gov website is being fixed.
Gary Lauer, chief executive of EHealth, said in a letter this week to President Obama that his Mountain View, Calif., company was willing to operate the federal exchange through its website as a temporary stopgap to give officials more time to repair the troubled online marketplace.
"Mr. President: We are ready to help you get this program back on track promptly," Lauer wrote, "if you allow us to take over the shopping and enrollment process in all 36 federal exchange states -- without cost to the taxpayer."
Lauer said there was no immediate response from the Obama administration while Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius faced tough questioning on Capitol Hill.
Federal officials have apologized for the bungled rollout, and they have vowed that healthcare.gov will be running smoothly by the end of November.
The federal government has already signed up EHealth, GetInsured.com and other Web-based brokers to assist with enrollment in the 36 states relying on the federal exchange.
But those online brokers say there have been technical delays in connecting with the federal exchange amid its other problems.
Lauer said it would be a few more weeks before people wanting subsidized coverage as part of the healthcare law can enroll through outside Web brokers. His latest proposal went far beyond that.
EHealth also reiterated its call for California's insurance exchange, one of 14 states running its own marketplace, to use the company as another venue for online enrollment.
California officials have said they would consider using online brokers at a later date, possibly for 2015 enrollment.
EHealth and other online brokers stand to earn more insurance company commissions if consumers use their websites to buy coverage tied to the Affordable Care Act. The price to the consumer would be the same.
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