Joan Henneberry, the new Director of Colorado’s health insurance exchange program, has compared the proposed exchange to being like “Travelocity of Expedia for health insurance” rather than a traditional government-run program. The exchanges will also serve some additional administrative and regulatory functions, including organizing the subsidies for people who qualify for them, and making sure that carriers in the exchange are meeting various quality and transparency guidelines.
But in terms of being a comparison-shopping website for health insurance, I’m struck by how much that sounds like the service we’ve been offering our clients for years. The exchanges will function mostly online, which was a transition we made back in 2003 when we established our website and started working with carriers to get online applications for our clients. We realized soon after getting into the health insurance industry that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health insurance, and that it didn’t make sense to only represent one or two carriers. So we made a point to offer as many different carriers as possible, without compromising quality. We don’t work with medical discount plans or bottom-shelf carriers. We offer policies from lots of different companies, but all of them are reputable carriers.
There’s no charge for our services, which means that a person who is shopping for health insurance will pay the same premium if she buys her policy through us, or directly from the carrier. But we can offer specific advice and guidance for each client’s needs, without any additional fees, and without being biased in favor of one carrier over another.
The exchanges won’t be up and running until 2014, but if you’re looking for a good place to compare individual health insurance options – with free personalized help if you need it – Insurance Shoppers, Inc. is a good place to start.