PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — While it’s hit or miss whether you can actually sign up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act website, www.healthcare.gov, there is one new feature on the homepage that always opens for you: an option for potential customers to see a plan right now.
“Americans across the country can type in their zip code and shop and browse,” noted White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
But some analysts say the dollar figure cited for insurance in the shop and browse is misleading.
“Incredibly misleading for people who are trying to get a sense of what they are paying,” noted industry analyst Jonathan Wu.
Wu and others say the website lumps people into two broad categories: 49 and under or 50 and older.
Prices for everyone in the 49 and under category are based on what a 27-year-old would pay, while in the 50 and older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay.
“Is it misleading?” KDKA money editor Jon Delano asked Kristin Ash of Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield that sells insurance on the exchange.
“No. I wouldn’t suggest that it’s misleading,” said Ash. “That shopping procedure is really only to give you a general guideline.”
Ash says shop and browse just gives an estimate and, equally important, informs potential customers of the insurance companies that are offering coverage in the local area.
But she admits that a person’s specific age is very important in determining insurance rates.
“Estimate’s the best word here. It definitely could be lower or higher depending on your age,” she said.
So use the shop and browse it’s easy for everyone to get on right now, but watch for the pricing.
Call the insurance company for an exact price or wait until you can actually log on to the healthcare website.