State Exchanges' Technical Problems Shifts Focus
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Given the second week of technical difficulties affecting the federal health insurance exchange supporting 36 states, increased attention is being directed at "off-exchange" health plans. Off-exchange plans are health plans that are purchased outside a state's health insurance marketplace (i.e. exchange). Since these health plans are not sold on an exchange, lower-income enrollees cannot receive premium subsidies for them. For some well-known insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare, their individual and family health plans are only available outside the exchanges in several states.
When investigating off-exchange premiums, HealthPocket found many insurance company web sites were not yet displaying their 2014 rates. For example, Humana has not released on its web site the off-exchange Bronze Plan rates for Milwaukee Wisconsin. The rates for Aetna are currently limited to 2013 plans in many states supported by the Aetna web site. United Healthcare also was not displaying 2014 off-exchange rates online for many states in which they sell insurance.
HealthPocket did uncover some 2014 off-exchange rates. In Atlanta, HealthPocket found that the lowest priced Bronze Plans for a 27 year-old nonsmoker were more expensive at Coventry ($180.26) and Aetna ($196) than for the lowest priced Bronze Plan available on Georgia's exchange ($166). In South Dakota, the off-exchange Bronze Plans faired better with Wellmark BlueCross and Blue Shield at $171.60 for its least expensive entry for a 27 year-old nonsmoker compared to $196 for the lowest priced Bronze on the state exchange. However, the given the paucity of exchange rates, HealthPocket was unable to release a comprehensive analysis of on-exchange versus off-exchange premiums.
"For those insurance companies only offering off-exchange health insurance plans within a state, there is a need to make a compelling case to the public that their premiums are worth investigating," said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket. "If off-exchange rates cannot be easily reviewed on an insurance company's web site consumers may assume that the rates aren't competitive."
HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans available to an individual, family, or small business to allow consumers to make their best health plan decision and reduce their out of pocket costs. HealthPocket uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of HealthPocket.com spent decades pioneering internet-based access to health insurance information and created HealthPocket to offer an online resource to positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.