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New Health Exchanges Not Equipped for Comparison Shopping

Not all of the new online health insurance exchanges scheduled to be operational on October 1 will allow consumers to comparison shop plans...
July 31, 2013

Not all of the new online health insurance exchanges scheduled to be operational on October 1 will allow consumers to comparison shop plans. Some states are delaying online tools that could make it easier for consumers to find the right plan.

Paul Hencoski, leader of KPMG’s government health practice, which is advising nearly 20 states on exchanges, said with tight timelines “states have had to scale back their initial ambitions.” Hencoski said that means “there will be a significant amount of manual processing of things that will later be automated.”

“The description that this was going to be like Travelocity was a very simplistic way of looking at it,” said Christine Ferguson, director of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange. “I never bought into it.”

What It Means to Agents: Consumers may have difficulty navigating their choices in health as soon as the exchanges open and the exchanges may be of little help. At the same time, navigators and “assisters” employed by the government are prohibited — as they should be — from giving consumers advice. This may provide an opening for licensed agents and brokers, with their expertise as advisors.

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