With consumers in 36 states struggling to access a federal exchange website to compare health plans, the Obama administration launched a new online tool Thursday that lets users see premium estimates by state, health plan and two age categories, Kaiser Health News reports.
"One of the biggest criticisms of healthcare.gov was that consumers had to create an account before they could even look to see what health plans are available in their area and what the premiums are. The website has blocked many users from establishing an account since its Oct. 1 launch, leaving most shoppers unable to learn what is being offered, let alone enroll.
"The new online tool allows users to find out the average monthly premium by different health plan and by coverage tier—bronze, silver, gold and platinum—with higher metal tiers offering lower out-of-pocket expenses in exchange for more expensive premiums.
"The prices do not take into account the subsidies people may be eligible for based on their income, or specific price points related to age. The site offers only two age breakdowns –younger than 50 or older than 50. Consumers also can’t get any information on a plan’s co-pays, deductibles and other benefit information.
"But at least they can access the information without getting an error message – or being told to try again." Read more.