New Website Helps You Navigate Health Insurance
Kiplinger Personal Finance
Q: What kind of information does the new HealthCare.gov Web site provide?
After you enter answers to a few questions (such as your state, age range and health status), the site immediately lists all of the private insurance plans in your area, as well as public programs you may qualify for, such as the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (the new high-risk pool created by the health-care-reform law), any existing high-risk pool in your state, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and
The site also explains the new rules for covering young adults under age 26 and laws governing job-based health coverage (and protections if you lose your job or exhaust your COBRA coverage). And it provides links to hospitals and health-care facilities that offer free or below-cost health care to low-income people.
This is the first time that all of the public and private options have been listed in one place and personalized, which was a major undertaking because some health-care programs are national, some state-based and some local.
The government used its muscle to gather comprehensive information about the private health-insurance programs, which had been difficult to navigate in the past. The site includes more than 1,000 insurance companies with more than 5,500 plan offerings. Type in your zip code, and you'll see a list of each company offering health insurance in your area. Click on "View Plans" next to an insurer's name to get a list of plans you can buy from it. You'll also see links to the insurer's list of services covered, provider network (with the insurer's tool to check for your doctors), drug coverage and more information.
If any of the links that an insurer provided did not include useful information, the site's creators put "Correct Link Not Provided" in that topic's allotted space. "When we made our first request (to insurers), we got some good information and some sketchy information," says
The site doesn't include pricing information for private plans yet -- that's slated to be added in October. And even then, the prices won't be precise because insurers can base premiums for individual and small-group coverage on people's medical conditions until 2014. But you'll still be able to get an idea of how their standard rates stack up against each other. And you'll eventually see each insurer's "medical loss ratio," which will show the percentage of the insurer's premiums spent on medical expenses versus administrative costs.
HealthCare.gov is a great first stop for anyone searching for health-care options. But you'll still need to explore further to do a comprehensive search for health insurance. To get price quotes based on your specific health condition and to buy a policy, you can go to eHealthInsurance.com, contact a local health-insurance broker (you can find some at www.nahu.org) or contact the insurer directly. But by going to HealthCare.gov first, you'll know whether there are other insurers in the area that don't appear at eHealthInsurance.com or aren't sold by your local broker.
Your state insurance department may include pricing information for insurers doing business in the area on its Web site (you can find links to state insurance departments at www.naic.org). The state site may also have market-conduct reports and complaint ratios for insurance companies, which can help you avoid companies that have a history of hassling people at claim time.
You can also check complaint ratios (the insurer's U.S. market share of closed complaints compared with the company's U.S. market share of premiums) at the
Available at Amazon.com:
- Most Okay With Higher Social Security Taxes
- How to Retire Gradually
- Plan Ahead For a Comfortable & Potentially Rich Retirement
- To Understand Your 401K Plan Just Focus on the Fees
- Buying Coupons for Deep Discounts Carries Risk
- How New FTC Rules for Debt-Settlement Firms May Protect You
- 529 College Plans Not Completely Trouble-Free
- New Website Helps You Navigate Health Insurance
- Prepare For the Rising Cost of Long-Term Care
- How Much Life Insurance Do You Need?
- The Great College Scholarship Scramble
- The New High-Risk Health Insurance Pool: Common Questions
- Misunderstandings Rampant on Health Care Reform & Medicare
- How to Talk to Your Parents About the Estate Tax
- Should Young People See a Financial Planner?
- 10 Ways to Ruin Your Retirement
- Understanding the Psychology of Retirement Planning
- Five-Year Rule for Roth IRA Withdrawals: A Primer
- Hard Times Triggering Spike in Consumer Fraud
- New Sites Empower Students to Build Their Own Scholarships
- 10 Things You Didn't Know About Social Security
- Costly 'Add-On' Insurance More About Profits Than Benefits
- Teaching Your Child Money Habits for Life
- Retirement Living Decisions Don't Require Hand-Wringing
- Sears Brings Back the Christmas Club
- Will You Run Out of Money Before You Run Out of Years?
- Best and Worst Places to Build a Nest Egg
- 21 Ways to Make Extra Money in Retirement
- Do You Trust Financial Services Companies? Trust Index Says Not So Much
- Don't Be Intimidated by Medicare Labyrinth of Letters
- 2010: Good Year to Die For Your Heirs' Sake
- The Dangers of DIY Estate Planning
- The Economy's Lasting Impact on Your Retirement
- Unconventional Retirement Investing Strategies
- Another Retirement Challenge for Women: Income Gender Gap
- Launching Your Own Business After Age 50
- Key Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Financial Adviser
- The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less
- 15 Ways to Tell if You Are Ready to Retire
- How to Maximize Your Social Security Benefits
- How Working Longer Helps Build Retirement Security
- How to Find a Low-Tax Place to Retire
- Investing Your Social Security Check? Consider These Factors
- Alternatives to Traditional Retirement
- Change On the Way for Retiree Health Benefit Programs
- Two New Medigap Plans to Consider
- Sizing Up Your Retirement Nest Egg Needs
- Biggest Sources of Retirement Income
- Assembling a Sturdy Retirement Portfolio
- Withdrawing from Retirement Accounts Early without Penalty
- Social Security Inflation Adjustment Debate
- Biggest Sources of Retirement Income
- Don't Neglect Long-Term Care in Retirement Planning
- How the Health Care Bill Impacts Retirees
- Jobs With the Best Retirement Benefits
Personal Finance - New Website Helps You Navigate Health Insurance
(c) 2010 Kiplinger Personal Finance