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Online broker aims to ease health care shopping

There's an option that might make shopping for new health care coverage a whole lot easier.
November 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
There's an option that might make shopping for new health care coverage a whole lot easier.

Dan Saifer of Costa Mesa is one of the 1 million Californians receiving a letter from their insurance company saying their health insurance would be canceled on or before January 1, 2014.

"I got a notice in June. It was through a company called Aetna, and Aetna was pulling out of individual health plans in California," said Saifer. "They just weren't going to offer any individual health plans at all."

Tonja Hughes of Santa Monica needs to find a new health insurance policy too. Her previous provider, Kaiser, sent her a notice saying her premiums were going up big time come the first of the year.

"Two years ago I signed up with Kaiser for about $150 a month, and then with Obamacare coming into play, I received a letter, and this letter said 'Your premium, due to the Affordable Healthcare Act, needs to go up, and your premium will practically double,'" said Hughes.

Both Saifer and Hughes are victims of a loophole in the Affordable Care Act. Last week President Obama said he wants to fix that and asked the nation's insurance companies to extend those health plans that are about to be canceled.

But so far the insurance industry, at least in California, has not agreed to his plan. That leaves millions of Californians shopping for new coverage -- not an easy task.

"It's not like buying a TV," said Hughes. "It's actually even more than buying a car, because this is really going to affect your life."

That's why consumers often need help. Covered California is one place to find insurance, especially if you qualify for a subsidy. If not, then you can shop each insurance company individually. Or an even easier method is to go to an online broker like eHealthInsurance.com.

"We offer carriers in all 50 states. We deal with 180 of the largest carriers, have over 11,000 plans, so we really offer a place for somebody to come, compare and shop for their health insurance and have been doing this for over 15 years," said Carrie McLean, director of customer service at eHealthInsurance.

EHealthInsurance doesn't charge the consumer for its services and the premiums aren't any higher than any place else.

"The rates are regulated by the Department of Insurance," said McLean. "No matter where you go, the rates are all going to be the same."

That's where Hughes and Saifer each found a new plan.

"I talked to one of their advisors, they sent me a summary that had like four different plans from different companies across from each other," said Saifer. "I picked the one I want, applied, and here I am."


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