Health insurance marketplaces improve consumer-friendly tools

Though both state and federal online health insurance marketplaces have experienced their fair share of difficulties, these websites have gotten better at helping consumers choose health plans, according to experts from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

For their study, the Penn researchers compared the consumer experience on as well as 12 state-based marketplaces during the first and second open enrollment periods. They noted what consumers would see both while "window shopping" before creating an account and "real shopping" after doing so.

Overall, the websites were more likely to feature helpful decision tools for consumers in the second open enrollment period, though the researchers note that such tools are still not available on all exchanges.

"By including more of these tools in both real and 'window' shopping stages, marketplaces can help de-mystify what for many is a complex, opaque process," lead researcher Charlene A. Wong, M.D., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, said in the announcement of the findings.

Only six sites, for example, allowed consumers to search for plans by provider network, and only nine sites provided "pop-up" definitions for common terms such as coinsurance and deductible. Many young consumers especially struggle to understand health coverage terms, FierceHealthPayer has reported.

Most sites allowed consumers to filter plans by premium and deductible amounts, though many sites' default listing of plans according to premium amount may lead consumers to focus too much on that one figure, the researchers note. Further, only three sites featured tools that allow consumers to calculate their out-of-pocket costs. California's site stood out in that it listed plans from least to most expensive based on this individual cost estimate.

Expanding the use of such tools may be particularly helpful for exchange customers who are more likely than those insured through private employers or Medicare and Medicaid to be concerned with cost and value, a recent report shows.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement of the findings

Related Articles:
Health insurance exchange customers more engaged, cost-conscious
Industry jargon trips up millennials' health insurance enrollment process
3 ways to improve consumer experience on health insurance exchanges
State-based exchanges tough to pull off

Free Webinar

Take Control of Your Escalating Claim Costs through a Comprehensive Pre-payment Hospital Bill Review Solution

Today managing high dollar claim spend is more important than ever for Health Plans, TPAs, Employers, and Reinsurers, and can pose significant financial risks. How can these costs be managed without being a constant financial drain on your company resources? Our combination of the right people and the right technology provides an approach that ensures claims are paid right, the first time. Register Now!

Suggested Articles

With the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine looming, companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain are working overtime to plan for all contingencies.

The pandemic is transforming the way the healthcare industry handles payments. Here are key takeaways on the benefits of automated payments.

After hitting the high-water mark in the third quarter, global healthcare funding is projected to slow down in the final quarter of 2020.