State Offers Online Insurance Shopping Tool

It will be like having your own health insurance broker, something that can help you compare 2018 health plans and decide which best fits your needs.

And, it will do it in about five minutes.

It's a new online shopping tool that the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance just launched. You can find it at www.osicomparehealthplans.org

The website's creators say it will be a quick and easy way for people to compare the costs of the different plans that will be sold on the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange beginning Nov. 1. Those costs will include things like co-payments and deductibles. And the site will be able to determine if you're eligible for premium subsidies, and if so, how much of a subsidy.

In addition, the site will help consumers estimate their yearly health care costs by asking them a few simple questions about their health. That could be invaluable in deciding what kind of plan to choose, said OSI spokeswoman Heather Widler.

The site will also allow consumers to compare off-exchange health plans as well, Widler said. And, it was also designed to help people who don’t qualify for those subsidies — and will absorb the brunt of premium increases next year — by showing a broad selection of health care options.

Premiums for mid-level insurance coverage on New Mexico’s federally subsidized health exchange are increasing by an average of more than 35 percent for 2018.

Widler said that 46,000 people currently receive health insurance through the state’s health exchange portal, known as beWellnm. About 70 percent of those people receive subsidies. The exchange’s enrollment period runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

In all, 250,000 state residents are eligible for exchange coverage under the Affordable Care Act because they don’t get health care through an employer, Medicaid or other sources.

The shopping tool was created by Consumers' Checkbook, a nonprofit that has provided a similar service to four other states. The OSI is paying the nonprofit $190,000 to provide the service for one year.

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