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5 tips for signing up for insurance on Healthcare.gov

Now that the website can handle heavier traffic, the White House re-launched their effort to sell Obamacare. Dec. 23 is the last day to sign up for insurance and be covered by Jan. 1. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.

If the government's health care website still seems confusing, you're not alone. Even though several glitches have been fixed, Healthcare.gov has its quirks -- on both the front end and the back end, where insurance companies are complaining about having received information that's either incomplete or inaccurate.

But now that the website can handle heavy traffic without crashing, the White House aimed to re-sell the entire law on Tuesday -- and Consumer Reports is encouraging people to use Healthcare.gov after having warned people to stay away in October. 

NBC's Chuck Todd spoke with Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor for Consumer Reports, who has been covering healthcare reform. Below, please find several of her tips for navigating the insurance marketplace. 

1. Start browsing
"For the very first time, Healthcare.gov has a shopping function, a browsing function - something that it should have had from day one, but it’s now there and it’s working," Metcalf said.  

On the homepage, look for the little medallion on the left that says "See Plans Before I Apply." After clicking on the medallion, you'll be able to enter some simple information about yourself and see all of the plans available to you, without putting in your financial data.

"It can’t calculate whether or not you have a subsidy coming to you, but it will show you the plans available to you in your area with the premium for a person your age," Metcalf said. "And you can click through, see all the details and you can even look at the provider networks and preferred drug lists, which is hugely important to people."

2. Gather your financial information 
Prior to signing up on Healthcare.gov, gather all of the information you'll be expected to enter, much like when you sit down to do your taxes. You'll need last year's tax return, for example -- or, if you didn't have one, then you'll need information about payroll and any paystubs. Click here to find out what financial information you'll need.

3. If you created an account back in October, start over
Metcalf recommends starting a new account if there's a partially finished one still lingering in the system. She says it's best to just get rid of the old one and start over. 

4. Call the insurance company if you don't hear back from them
If you have any questions as to whether the insurance company has received the information you entered on Healthcare.gov, Metcalf suggests calling it -- especially if you haven't heard anything within a week or so. 

5. Learn how to 'unstick' your application
If you find that you're getting stuck at any point in the application process, follow this advice from Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov.  

For more helpful tips from Consumer Reports, please visit their online guide to healthcare enrollment. 

Consumer Reports' Nancy Metcalf explains how the enrollment process works for consumers on the healthcare website and why they now think it's safe to use.