.Gov Prices May Not Add Up

A THCB Reader in Michigan writes:

“The rates listed on the Healthcare.gov/Michigan site are inaccurate “estimates.”  Being unable to apply on the website due to glitches, I simply go on the site to view plans for my husband and me.  Based on our locality, “estimates” shown are about $250 – $600 for bronze and silver plans.  We even see some gold plans for about $460.

But when I telephone the insurance companies (Aetna, Humana, BCBSM, HAP) for details and quotes, suddenly the costs of the same plans are $950 – $1750!  Obviously, the “estimates” are disingenuous, probably reflecting prices that are available only to very young adults with no medical history.

An estimate is not an estimate unless it is close to what the final price is expected to be, not one-half or one-third the final price. Insurance companies need to list the estimates on the .gov website by range, rather than a single rate.  For example, if a policy can be sold for as little as $250 or as much as $950 depending on the particulars of each insured, that policy estimate needs to read $250 – $950.  Until insurance companies do this, they are, effectively using a bait-and-switch sales technique, which is illegal.”

If you’ve had a bad or good experience attempting to buy health insurance on the state or federal exchanges, we’d like to know about it. E-mail us at editor@thehealthcareblog.com.

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  3. The exchange prices include government subsidies for various plans. Although the numbers may still not add up, the subsidies account for the major difference between exchange price and quoted price.

  4. The healthcare.gov site needs to offer better than a “range”–getting information that your premium will be between $250 and $950 is just about useless.

    I used the healthcare.gov browse feature for Virginia, selected that I was shopping for myself, a spouse, and children, and was given prices of around $450 for a bronze plan. Super, I thought! Then I realized I had not provided any of our ages or the number of children. What random number was I being given? What kind of rate shock will I now experience?

    This feature as it is now is less than helpful.