Healthcare Exchange Sign-up – Post-Mortem

Posted on February 24, 2014

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My apologies to the three of you who were following my tale of woe late last year in attempting to get my client health insurance quotes through the Federal healthcare exchange web site.  Year-end closing activities prevented an update until now.

Shortly after my last post in early December, we gave up on the Federal web site and turned to the web sites of the major insurers in our local Philadelphia market.   As it turned out, the companies’ sites were easy to use and we obtained individual health insurance quotes without any difficulty.

My client ultimately bought an individual plan from the same carrier as his prior group plan.  The coverage was comparable (maybe a little worse in a few areas but not dramatically so) and the cost was slightly higher than his current group plan, but his prior rate was set in early 2013 so the price comparison wasn’t really apples-to-apples.

So what does all this mean…

1) We could never get the Federal web site to work.  As yet, I have not met or spoken to a single person who has successfully signed up using the web site.   I do know someone who signed up by speaking to a Federal healthcare exchange telephone representative, and she was happy with the process and especially the price of her health insurance after the subsidy.

2) The new rules eliminating pre-existing conditions, and thus medical underwriting, has made buying individual insurance directly from the carriers very simple.   This should help individuals with health issues who are unwilling to change or leave jobs due to not wanting to lose the group insurance provided in their current jobs.

3) The ability to buy individual policies directly from carriers without concerns about pre-existing conditions and with subsidies for lower paid employees may lead some small employers with lower paid employees to cancel their group plans and have their employees purchase individual health insurance directly.

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