SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In order to provide consumers with information regarding how the new Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges compare to one another, HealthPocket evaluated the individual state exchanges as well as the exchange dedicated to Washington, D.C. residents.
HealthPocket's health insurance exchange comparison found that Connecticut's exchange, AccessHealthCT, had the quickest process for state residents to review online health plans comparisons. Minnesota's exchange, MNsure, took the most steps to display online health plan comparisons among single web site exchanges that allowed for anonymous health plan shopping. Some state exchange web sites began with their own web site and then directed the web site visitor to Healthcare.gov also had an excessive amount of steps to reach online health plan comparisons.
HealthPocket also found that some exchanges did not allow for anonymous health plan shopping. The health insurance exchanges for Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Washington, D.C., and Vermont had web site visitors identify themselves in some form prior to beginning an online health plan comparison.
HealthPocket also found that phone support on the exchanges generally provided access to a live representative typically within two minutes. However, the phone test on the Massachusetts exchange documented a three-minute wait that concluded with an automated message instructing the caller to record a message and then wait up to 48 hours for a response from the exchange. The tests on Washington State and Minnesota exchanges also experienced waits of 10 minutes before a live representative was reached.
Hawaii was rated lowest among the state exchanges due to a lack of web site functionality. At the time of testing, Hawaii's exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector, did not have online health comparison functionality released. Residents were required to submit an online application and wait for the exchange to contact them with health plan information. Subsequent to the testing period, Hawaii unveiled additional web site functionality. The functionality required web site visitors to identify themselves in a registration process prior to comparing Hawaii health plans. When the HealthPocket tester used the functionality in an attempt to compare plans, it appeared as if an internal customer support system was displayed. Health plan comparison functionality was not found.
"HealthPocket uncovered an uneven state of affairs with respect to the individual state exchanges," said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket. "Progress has been made but issues like what was experienced with Hawaii's health insurance exchange could easily erode consumer confidence in an exchange."
HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans available to an individual, family, or small business to allow consumers to make their best health plan decision and reduce their out of pocket costs. HealthPocket uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of HealthPocket.com spent decades pioneering internet-based access to health insurance information and created HealthPocket to offer an online resource to positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.