Consumers can now window shop on HealthCare.gov

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Consumer Reports posts Hooray! You can now window shop on HealthCare.gov.

Quietly late last night, HealthCare.gov acquired an incredibly useful new feature. Without logging in or even creating an account, you can now see all kinds of details about plans available in your area, with the exact premiums for someone your age. This is a huge help for shoppers in the 36 states served by the portal, who up until now had to go through the long and not always smooth process of filling out an entire application before they could see this information.

I’ve been playing with it a bit, and it works perfectly, even in the midst of what’s one of the busiest days for the site in many weeks. You can filter by metal level or insurance company, and for each plan you can click through and see details about deductibles, coinsurance, etc.

You will also—and this is very important for a lot of people—find links to the provider directory for each plan, and the list of preferred drugs.

But what it will not show you is the size of any subsidy you might have coming to you to lower the cost of your premium. For that, you still have to go through the application process. But there’s a three-step workaround that’s pretty easy:

1. Figure out as best you can what your household Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) is likely to be in 2014. For this, you can use our cheat sheet that describes exactly how this works. It’s the number you’re going to enter in Step 2.

2.   Go to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator, which in our opinion is the best of several available. Fill it out, using the MAGI number you came up with in Step 1.  The subsidy it shows you, if any, is given on an annual basis. Divide by 12 to find out what it comes to every month. You’ll need this figure to complete Step 3.

3.  Now, go to HealthCare.gov. On the home page, click on the leftmost medallion that says, “See plans before I apply.” Fill out the requested information, and, presto, you’ll see the plans and can explore them to your heart’s content. To find the actual premium you’ll be paying, simply subtract the amount of your subsidy.

John Aravosis at Americablog.com similarly reports, Halle-freaking-lujah, the Obamacare Web site makeover ROCKS:

Halle-freaking-lujah, the long-awaited makeover of the Obamacare Web site ROCKS.

Three clicks and anyone can browse health care plans – in detail, and with prices.

No more having to create an account simply in order to browse plans.

No more having to have Homeland Security give you a prostate exam before approving you to simply browse plans.

The revamp of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) federal exchange site is exactly what they needed to do. It’s even easier than the DC exchange (and the DC one is great).

* * *

The new site? Click 3 buttons. That’s it.

Let me walk you through how easy the new Obamacare Web site actually is.

Page 1 – The Federal Exchange home page

The federal health care exchange home page is now short and simple, 3 options, making it very clear what you can do with the site.

For our purposes, I chose option 1, “see plans before I apply.”

Federal-exchange-web-site-page-11

Page 2 – The new federal exchange info request

If you click on “see plans before I apply” on the home page, you end up on this page, which asks you a few simple questions that take all of under-3o-seconds to answer.

Federal-exchange-web-site-page-21

Page 3: The Obamacare federal exchange plans

I filled out page 2 quickly, then landed on this final page with the plans, in detail, prices and all. It was that simple.

Federal-exchange-web-site-page-31

I’m actually surprised how well the makeover went. This is perfect. It’s everything I wanted, but admittedly not everything I expected.

There was no reason to require people to “apply” simply to browse plans. And for those who were worried that people might get sticker-shock at the prices of the plans, while not realizing that they might get federal subsidies to pay for the plans, each plan has a very clear notice that “prices will be lower if you quality for help paying for coverage. Read more.”

Whoever designed that first site deserves a firing squad. Whoever designed this makeover deserves a medal.

Comments are closed.