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You may have noticed that healthcare.gov got an update today.  In addition to making it easier to apply by phone and in other ways while they keep working on the bigger problems with the website, they made one very important but little noticed change.  There is now a big "See Plans Now" button that just shows you what is available to you.  No need to sign up for an account, verify your identity or anything.  Just answer a few questions, give them your location and you'll see the cost and a brief description of every plan available to you.

How many people do you think have been wading through (and bogging down) the system just to take a look at whats out there but don't really plan on changing their insurance?  A lot I bet.  Now they can satisfy their curiosity without even giving an email address and if they do decide to apply, and aren't trying to qualify for subsidies, you can head straight to the website of whichever company you like the looks of and skip healthcare.gov all together - at least until they get it working.

The President can't say "go to the insurer's websites" because that would be send a terrible message (and give the GOP another hammer to swing with) but that's the real message here.  The ACA is not a website.  And they made a mistake by putting so much emphasis on it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good... (15+ / 0-)
    Heathcare.gov now shows rates without creating an account!
    About time.

    "Patients are not consumers" - Paul Krugman

    by assyrian64 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:42:26 AM PDT

  •  ACA... (11+ / 0-)

    The whole Tea Party response at this point seems to be:
    "ZOMG! Website glitches PROVE TED CRUZ is right! BARRYCARE is DOOOMED"

    Not sure what their going to do once the glitches are fixed.

    "Patients are not consumers" - Paul Krugman

    by assyrian64 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:45:57 AM PDT

  •  I set up a dummy account... (7+ / 0-)

    To see what rates my daughter would qualify for, so that I could discuss the issue with her.

    I was appalled that you couldn't just "shop," also that it was so hard to leave.

    Right now, keeping her on my insurance is still the best deal, but who knows with today's job market.

    •  In other words... (0+ / 0-)

      ...you added to the problem by creating your dummy account.

      I hope your daughter does not have a problem straightening out her personal application for insurance sometime in the future because you created this dummy account.

      •  Didn't use her real name or address (0+ / 0-)

        The only thing I did was slow down the system.

        Which is henious, but this system sounds like it was designed for use only by people who understood all the options before they sat down at the website.

        Which is not what I expected

  •  It does but these rates don't include subsidies if (10+ / 0-)

    you're eligible for them.

    •  In my case even with out the subsidies I could (6+ / 0-)

      purchase equivalent insurance that I have now at a lower price. About a third to a half lower. There are savings here for people. I will bet that most of those savings end up going back into the economy as well.

      UID 35,098 Nov. 12, 2004. Seems like yesterday.

      by flatford39 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:17:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have you seen valuepenguin? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ColoTim, kyril, FG, derridog

      It will include a subsidy estimate.

      It has been working well for weeks and also gives plan details for coverage limits, etc..

      Much better than healthcare.gov IMHO.

      I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

      by Satya1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:34:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Several disclaimers & link to calculator provided. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, Stichey

      I am lucky to be covered by my employer and don't need health insurance through the exchanges, but I went on healthcare.gov last night after hearing about this new "window shopping" feature. I wanted to check it out for a friend and also do research in case my employment status should change in the future.

      On almost every page, there was a disclaimer saying that many people qualify for subsidies (including a range of incomes for singles and families that would qualify). There was also a link to a calculator so that you could estimate your subsidy, if eligible.

      It was SUPER easy to use and really, really helpful, IMO.

  •  The Rhode Island site had this from the beginning. (9+ / 0-)

    The states that took the task of creating their own exchanges have done a better job their websites than the Obama administration on their own. This seems to be a problem that is affecting the red controlled states that chose to leave the their exchange to the federal government to set up.

    It's quite ironic. The Republican governors and GOP controlled legislators who are of the opinion that states can do things better than the federal government, could have done precisely that had they taken on the responsibility of creating their own exchanges. But nonetheless, they will complain and whine over a problem that they could have avoided had they only practiced what they preach.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 09:51:54 AM PDT

  •  The Insurance Does Work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti

    Look no supporters are more critical about the launch of Healthcare.gov than I. I think that the failure is unconscionable and there will need to be public accountability (like Sibelius should be fired today) about the contractors who failed and a rebate of fees charged to build the horribly coded site.

    With all that said once you past the glitches, the process works. Many who could not get insurance now can for them and their families, families can save money and hopefully this is the first step on a needed journey towards single payer or Medicare for all.

    Insurance for my wife and I is going from $1,850 per month to $921
    Yes the process works but fix the f'n site or I fear many will never realize it
    •  Procurement is the problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PrescottPatriot, ColoTim, kyril

      The real problem is with the insane process involved in getting government contracts.  The only ones who do it are ones that are expert at jumping through all the right hoops and procuring government contracts.  And the comparisons to companies like google or facebook are just dumb.  They need companies like Oracle (who did Oregon's site), or IBM or SAP.

      But those companies can make more money by focusing on their enterprise customers than become experts in government contracts.  Its not worth it.

      Change the process for getting contracts and companies like Oracle who know a thing or two about connecting massive IT infrastructures and making them work will get interested.  The amount of system integration behind making your ATM card work anywhere on the planet dwarfs this.

      •  as a small government contractor (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferg, ColoTim, kyril

        I can add this.

        Anyone who does business of any kind with the Fed Govt better be ready for piles of forms and have loads of patience.

        What this project needed (due to politics-adjusted timeframe) was a "sole source" justification, which takes an act of god or at least someone very high up, like a GS99.

        That's the tragedy - people in the admin know how to do this correctly, they just didn't.

        Hope they get it fixed soon.

      •  Oregon's site hasn't worked (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril
        They need companies like Oracle (who did Oregon's site),
        "Despite spending $82 million so far -- two weeks past its launch date -- the online exchange hasn't enrolled anyone."
        October 18, 2014
        http://www.oregonlive.com/...
        •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

          Oregon spent $82m for 4m population. About $20/head.
          Feds spent $680m for 320m population. About $2/head.

          So much for states doing things more efficiently.

          "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

          by nosleep4u on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:36:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  ORACLE!!!! Don't even... (0+ / 0-)

        Most awful company... Millions on this co and they delivered the shittiest application I could have imagined for CUNY... but Larry Ellison has a nice island somewhere using the money we spent with them.

  •  The rates are not really correct (4+ / 0-)

    Hubby and I are both 60.  Looked up rates without logging on and finally was able to create an account yesterday.  The rates are completely different since there is no "age factor" in the rates displayed without the login.  Use the information with caution.  

    I believe the initial rate I saw was around $450 and the final rate for the same plan was around $800.

  •  On Saturday I went to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana, kyril

    https://www.healthcare.gov/...

    I said I was:
    living in Florida
    single
    over 50
    living in Sarasota County

    BlueCare Everyday Health 1477
    Florida Blue HMO (a BlueCross BlueShield FL company)
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $363.10

    BlueSelect Everyday Health 1443
    Florida Blue (BlueCross BlueShield FL)
    EPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $368.83

    BlueCare Everyday Health Plus 1477P
    Florida Blue HMO (a BlueCross BlueShield FL company)
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $374.36

    BlueSelect Everyday Health Plus 1443P
    Florida Blue (BlueCross BlueShield FL)
    EPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $380.26

    BlueCare Essential 1473
    Florida Blue HMO (a BlueCross BlueShield FL company)
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $389.40

    BlueOptions Everyday Health 1410
    Florida Blue (BlueCross BlueShield FL)
    EPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $392.40

    BlueCare Everyday Health 1498
    Florida Blue HMO (a BlueCross BlueShield FL company)
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $399.14

    BlueSelect Essential 1439
    Florida Blue (BlueCross BlueShield FL)
    EPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $399.33

    BlueCare Essential Plus 1473P
    Florida Blue HMO (a BlueCross BlueShield FL company)
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $401.47

    BlueOptions Everyday Health Plus 1410P
    Florida Blue (BlueCross BlueShield FL)
    EPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $404.57

    There were 31 silver plans on offer, those are the first 10.

    I didn't check coverage quality based on care providers.

    The 10 lowest priced bronze plans ranged in price from $325.94 to $353.22.

    Bronze plans only cover 60% of costs vs. 70% covered by silver plans, so those bronze plans should be about 14% cheaper, but they aren't.

    From what I've seen, I'm not likely to recommend bronze plans.

  •  I also checked prices for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    Salt Lake County, Utah:

    Humana Connect Silver 4600/6300 Plan
    Humana Medical Plan of Utah, Inc.
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $248.44

    Select Value Preference Benchmark Silver 1000
    SelectHealth
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $300.95

    ....

    Select Med Preference Benchmark Silver 1000
    SelectHealth
    HMO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $327.11

    Those were from the cheapest ten silver plans for a single person over 50.
  •  There are a total of six plans of all types (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    offered to people over 50 living in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi

    Humana National Preferred Basic 6350/6350 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Catastrophic
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $345.14

    Humana National Preferred Bronze 6300/6300 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Bronze
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $436.23

    Humana National Preferred Bronze 4850/6350 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Bronze
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $490.78

    Humana National Preferred Silver 3650/3650 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $504.39

    Humana National Preferred Silver 4250/6250 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Silver
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $513.22

    Humana National Preferred Gold 2500/3500 Plan
    Humana Insurance Company
    PPO | Gold
    Estimated monthly premium for Only you
    $599.01

  •  Silver plans for single person (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    50+ in Harris County, Texas (Houston) ranged in price from $332.38 to $479.38 per month.

    I didn't check if they included M.D. Anderson cancer center.

    I did a brief look to see if a Minnesota plan on the Minnesota site included the Mayo Clinic, but my incomplete search didn't turn up a plan.

    The state-run Minnesota site said the premium had to be paid by 12/15/2013 to get coverage starting on the first day of January 2014.

  •  Florida Blue gave information about their (0+ / 0-)

    metallic plans on their website.

  •  Just went there (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TooFolkGR, ybruti, ColoTim, kyril, Lawrence

    A couple of clicks and it redirected me to the Washington State site. Filled in a few more fields, got dozens of plans to choose from. Entire process described above: less than two minutes.

    Once again, Republicans show there is no fact that they feel the need to learn. ~ Fordmandalay

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:16:41 AM PDT

  •  IMHO there is NO value to that change (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sab39, kyril, Mr SeeMore

    Sure it gives prices and names of policies, but WHERE are the coverage terms of the policies?  Hey, maybe I'm missing something and I would love to be corrected.

    But I need to know WHAT I'm buying and not just the price.

    In my view valuepenguin is still the best place to go.  I can see the detailed terms of the benefits:  deductibles, maximums, etc.

    Not only that but they manage to include a subsidy estimate for you if you give them your estimated 2014 income.

    I'm still mortified by the sloppy job at healthcare.gov

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:32:56 AM PDT

    •  It this... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, viral

      The value in this is that everyone knows healthcare.gov but no one has heard of value penguin (although I don't dispute how awesome it may be).  Now people that just want to take a look dont have to go through the whole sign up process which will take a considerable load off of their servers.  They can see roughly what's available and a quick google search will get them to the insurers website for more info and/or enrollment.

      Until healthcare.gov is everything it wants to be, this helps.  A lot.  

      •  Sorry, it's a fail. (0+ / 0-)

        We can't see what we're buying.  We don't know if the plan is tied to a narrow network or makes out of network services covered.  We don't know the deductibles or the maximum coverage amounts.  

        I've got a Camry I can sell you for $5,000.  Do you want it?

        These missing details are not just icing on the cake.  They are the critical attributes of the insurance products for sale here.  Having a name and a price adds little, especially when news outlets all over the country are already talking about price ranges.

        BTW, this info has been available for a week or more at healthcare.gov although it was a little awkward navigating to it.  The button seems new though so I'm glad someone finally figured out the navigation problems.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:12:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But you don't decide to buy the Camry then (0+ / 0-)

          You decide if you are interested in a Camry.  If you have a new Cadillac, or if you are broke you say no thanks.  If you are in the market you say, tell me more.

          Before you had to sit in the office and talk to the manager to even find out the brand they were selling.  Now a little more info is available.  

          Having said that, the OR site has the premium and the deductible on the first level, which is very useful.

          Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Gabby Giffords.

          by Leftleaner on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:36:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure my Camry (0+ / 0-)

            analogy works that well - for a number of reasons.

            The point is that having a price is nearly meaningless until you know important product details about your options.  Of the "little more info" that is now available, most of that was available via TV, newspapers and web articles.  Even price ranges, even provider names were available.

            I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

            by Satya1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 12:12:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  "Valuepenguin" is great. Thanks for the link. More (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Satya1, SoCaliana

      people should be aware of Valuepenguin for pricing.

      "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

      by Mr SeeMore on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:39:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        Out of network coverage info is critical for me and valuepenguin is the only place I know where I can get reasonably accurate info on that without going through the healtcare.gov registration abyss.

        I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

        by Satya1 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 12:15:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I seem to have gotten (0+ / 0-)

        two different price sets on valuepeguin. This may be because age wasn't properly taken into account initially.

        A lower price set before checking out silver plan 1406P and a different price after checking out the plan $546.93 for Sarasota County.

        Where there are two figures, the first is the in-network deductible and the second is the out-of-network (co-insurance/co-pay) amount.

        Florida Blue 1406P

        Deductible (Individual) $2,100 $4,200
        Deductible (Family) $4,200 $8,400
        Coinsurance 10% 50%
        Out of Pocket Maximum (Individual) $4,200 $8,400
        Out of Pocket Maximum (Family) $8,400 $16,800

        Services

        Primary Care Visit 10% 50%
        Specialist Visit 10% 50%
        In Patient Hospital Services 10% 50%
        Emergency Room Services 10% 10%
        Mental / Behavioral Health 10% 50%
        Imaging (CT/PET Scans, MRIs) 10% 50%
        Rehabilitative Speech Therapy 10% 50%
        Rehabilitative Occupational & Physical Therapy 10% 50%
        Preventative Care $0 50%
        Laboratory Outpatient and Professional Services 10% 50%
        X-ray and Diagnostic Imaging 10% 50%

        Prescription Drugs

        Generic Rx $10  
        Preferred Brand Rx $40  
        Non Preferred Brand Rx $70  
        Specialty Drugs 150

  •  The new exchanges will help some, but what's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter, kyril

    really needed is the option to sign on to Medicare/Public Option. As it is, folks are overpaying. But I do see it will fill some of a need.

    There's still more work to do on providing health services, not just paying for plans. For those this phase will help, I'm glad for it though.

  •  Not a new feature... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana, WisVoter, kyril

    ... although they've made the button for it more prominent on the site, which is good.

    Unfortunately it's still an extremely limited feature: you can find the names of the plans available to you and their premiums, but no information about the actual plans themselves: copays, deductibles, network providers, etc.

    It's great to know I can get Gold level coverage in the exchange for $250/mo, but that doesn't tell me anything about whether the specific plans available are better than what I have now or not.

    It shouldn't be hard to have a link to details of each plan even if those links took you to the insurer's websites!

    The thing about changing the world... Once you do it, the world's all different. (Joss Whedon, BtVS Season 8 "The long way home")

    by sab39 on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 10:48:00 AM PDT

    •  Go directly to the provider websites (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SingleVoter

      The details that BlueCross provides are better than the ones on the marketplace site and they can give you exact prices (without subsidies) based on your age and zip code.

      Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

      by Libertina on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:44:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks!! Posted a diary on this last night but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter, Lawrence, kyril, SoCaliana

    not many people were around.

  •  For me: (0+ / 0-)

    All of the gold, platinum, and silver plans except for one cost more than my current coverage. I didn't compare the plans in detail. I don't qualify for subsidies.

    This is good information to share with other people who have questions, because I work with a lot of low income people who don't have any insurance.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:29:27 AM PDT

  •  i don't know.... they send me to a the state and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCaliana

    then they ask me to start an account....

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:35:23 AM PDT

  •  The rates are not completely accurate... (0+ / 0-)

    They are average rates. You won't know your actual rate until you put in your age and some other information. However, I was able to go directly to the BlueCross site and look at actual rates based on my age and location. These do not show the subsidies, but at least you get a realistic idea. They also provide a more complete explanation of benefits for each plan. Go directly to the provider sites to get truer rates.

    Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

    by Libertina on Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 11:42:49 AM PDT

  •  i looked at rates last week without an account (0+ / 0-)

    i couldn't see subsidies, because i wasn't putting personal information into the system. i think this was last wednesday.

  •  hooray software! (0+ / 0-)

    baby steps...  we'll get it right with version 1.1.

    The law is the important thing.  Nobody will care about these glitches in a few weeks.  Doesn't go into effect until january, so nobody panic yet.  

  •  Why don't those of you who require more info (0+ / 0-)

    just contact an insurance broker? they can't take a cut, it's like a travel agent. That's what we're going to use at the local.

  •  We'll see if it helps.. (0+ / 0-)

    Not sure what specifically is going on with Healthcare.gov but generally speaking I'd think the logic above is backwards, and this change would hurt, not help, the overall system.  The more requests a site gets, the slower it runs.  When users are running around trying to find their drivers license number or entering data in long forms they're not hitting the site; they might feel personally bogged down, but the server doesn't.  If you have a million people unencumbered by a long signup process suddenly searching the database for rates -- now that can slow the site.  

    It all depends on what's going on with the whole system.  Maybe setting up a new account is indeed a big drain on the server; maybe it has to check a bunch of slow databases to find out that you're who you say you are, and that's more taxing than simple searching its rate database.  Who knows.  But generally speaking, smoothing the way for more people to hit your site more times isn't the way to reduce server load.

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