Lawmakers are clashing over why the U.S. Department of Healthand Human Services started off with public exchange plan price databehind a log-in wall.

When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act federalexchange enrollment site opened Oct. 1, users had to create anaccount to get easy access to state exchange plan data, includingpricing. HHS officials told the Wall Street Journal theymade the change so users would know about their eligibility forpremium subsidies before seeing prices.

In early October, users had trouble creating HealthCare.govaccounts, and exchange watchers said traffic from consumers whosimply wanted to “window shop” added to high traffic volume thatbogged down system performance.

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Allison Bell

Allison Bell, a senior reporter at ThinkAdvisor and BenefitsPRO, previously was an associate editor at National Underwriter Life & Health. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She can be reached through X at @Think_Allison.