HealthSherpa Web site

Does navigating your government-created health exchange web site give you a headache?

Here’s a quick online tool to find the health care offerings in your area, including a tool to quickly estimate subsidies:

http://www.thehealthsherpa.com/

This is a free tool created  using public databases. No login required — all information can be quickly entered on the home page, with results appearing as the the data is entered.

(Created as a public service by three young and capable San Francisco-based computer technicians – see http://www.thehealthsherpa.com/about to learn more about them)

 

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Silver plans turning out to be best choice in N.C.

Yesterday my wife and I met with seven employees of a company to get started on enrolling them and getting them health insurance. Most of them were part time employees making about $17,000 to $20,000 a year; the two full-time employees made a little over $35,000. We can’t verify their eligibility for subsidies yet, but Blue Cross/Blue Shield has now implemented a way to “estimate” the amount of subsidy you might receive, and has calculated the plan rates accordingly.

What we’ve found so far is that the bronze level plans, while extremely inexpensive ($10/month for someone making $17,000 and single), have very high deductibles ($5000 plus $200 on prescription drugs). While the silver plans have higher monthly premiums (about $50 to $70 for the same person depending on which network of providers you get), the deductible was $500/$200 and the total out-of-pocket was only $700.

This is one problem the navigators face that we don’t: Navigators are not supposed to give advice about which plan you should choose. Whether the navigators are following that rule is unknown to me, but it seems to me to be fairly inevitable that anyone looking at those plans would instinctively blurt out that “The bronze plan is NOT in your best interest unless you know you’re not going to get sick at all in 2014.”

Another problem we had: While the website showed the estimated subsidy and gave one range of plans, when we clicked the button to email the quote to the client they got an email without the subsidies and with a slightly different set of policies. That’s something we’re going to bring to the attention of BCBS today when they have a webinar for all their agents in North Carolina.

It’s also been a revelation to us how little people know about the ACA in general. More on that in my next post.