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When was the last time your employer offered you 132 different insurance plans during open enrollment?


If you live in a large urban area, chances are you have over 100 insurance plans to evaluate on the ACA Market Place. There are lots of places that are offering less than 20 plans. That's still a lot more choice than people get from the average large employer during open enrollment, which usually gives 3-4 choices maximum and an offer of dental and vision supplemental plans. I have friends working for small employers who have a choice of take it or leave it. Some with 2 choices.

If you've spent the last 10 years uninsured, the Marketplace options is overwhelming and that's a Good Thing. If you've been on junk insurance for several years, the expanded coverages look like Christmas (also, a Good Thing). It is ludicrous to expect anyone, glitchy website aside, to choose a plan in the hour 1/2 the web site limits you to making this decision. You can "save" plans, but you really have to make screenshots to remember what you are seeing. I called 800-318-2596 and was told I'd be receiving a paper summary the first week of November. You can't keep it all in your head. Wow, my family is going from one, least lousy choice to over 100 decent choices and over 20 good fits for us in what, an hour 1/2? You want me to pick one plan out of 132 in 90 minutes? Not happening.

Yep, you get an hour 1/2 to sort through 132 plans. That's after the application process. I could go through the various dopey things the site does that is just stupid, but others have done that already. Ok, one experience was so aggravating I have to tell you about it. After I had entered the demographic, economic and citizenship information, saved it and was ready to move onto the plan selection; the screen showed an empty table with a message stating no information was available. Concerned, I went back to the summary page to make sure the data was there. It was there, but the program wouldn't allow me to jump forward to plan selection. It forced me to revisit every data point again in what seemed like super slo mo. Yes, indeed, stupid. So slow, I had time to pen President Obama a short note on the subject between clicks. We completed the application process around October 20th. It Was Worth The Time To Get To The Plan Selection. I have a fantastic range of choices.

No one gives their employees as much choice as the ACA gave my family. Who gets 132 plans total? I'm delighted at the choices available to me and my family. The choices are predominantly HMOs, which I'm not going to select, but there are 17 PPOs to sort into good, bad and this is the one. There are no Point of Service Plans, but it looks like 4 of the PPO's are actually POS plans (that's just semantics). Premiums range from $216 per month to $1,300 per month. Deductibles range from $0 to $12,700. Out-of-Pocket Caps range from $0 (really zero) to $12,700. Coinsurance and Copays range from $0 per encounter to 50% coinsurance. Doctor choice is all over the place. Drug formularies are equally diverse.

Newsers and Republican lawmakers have rocks in their head if they really thought people with over 100 plans to choose from were going to sit down and 45 minutes later were going to be enrolled in a plan. When I was employed by a large company, I'd typically take 2 weeks to decide what to do, mostly because it would take that long to get my husband to sit down and discuss how much health care we really need. It took a while to decide how much deductible is too much and what co-pay/coinsurance levels would be right for us. We spent an hour last night going through the choices and we're still not sure which way to go, but I have narrowed it down to 5 plans.

The media and Congress has tunnel vision formed by their experiences with employer based open enrollment. They can't relate to the uninsured and under-insured. They've had their health care covered for years. Our 24/7 news cycle with 15 second sound bites and demands for instant reaction and gratification are solely focused on the glitches. Bull$hit glitches. Reporters have to say something, so the best thing to do is grab a whiny Republican poor loser to rail against a website and skip over the awesome amount of choice some of us are facing. Good decisions take time. I've got a month before I need to knuckle down and finalize my choices and I'm going to take it.

2:59 PM PT: Thanks for the rescue. I was wondering why I kept getting a comment or two now and then. I have a meeting and will check back again in an hour or so.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 08:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your point is well taken -- think before you act. (9+ / 0-)

    But the stories about's technical problems aren't made up -- the site has serious issues that the President himself has acknowledged.

    For ACA to work, a big chunk of the 48 million uninsured Americans need to sign up for health insurance. More people -- especially younger, healthy folks -- need to get into the pool.

    If they don't, premiums will rise for everyone, which could result in people dropping out, further raising premiums and continuing the spiral.

    That isn't fear mongering -- it's what happens when you put Obamacare in reverse. It's why those people with the creepy Uncle Sam ads want people to not sign up. It's also why it's so important to get working: ACA will only work if people can sign up.

    •  As one who went through the whole process, (17+ / 0-)

      I concur. I could have written one of the most satirical diaries ever on the subject. Or, I could have recounted my experiences humorously. I didn't because I believe in the product and the bottom line, is my family will have far better quality insurance come this January.

      The young will enroll. Every female student I have who is sexually active is totally on board with this. They tell me the stress reduction alone is worth the price. The guys, not so much, but all my male students are telling me their parents are on task. This is going to happen. I think most of these enrollments will happen by Thanksgiving weekend.

      A lot of people are focused on getting the young healthier people insured. We shouldn't lose sight that there are a lot of uninsurable people in their 40's and 50's who are healthy enough to only require 4-6 visits of out patient care and maybe 12 generic prescriptions per year. Yes, they will use the insurance, but not all of the uninsured are going to incur thousands of dollars of claims. There's a lot of people who would have bought insurance but couldn't because they have a history of asthma and are over 50 or have hypertension, smoke and are over 50 (but are not experiencing any symptoms).

      The fear mongering is from the lack of information and the lack of patience. People are making assumptions about the dearth of statistics available. I suspect the ACA contracts to the insurers overseen by HHS state they are only required to make 1 activity report per month (just like is required from any fiscal intermediary and Medicare Administrative Contractor). It's a long report with lots of data points, but it only has to happen by the 10th of the following month if it follows FI and MAC reporting protocols.

      Another thing that hasn't come out. People who are married but file taxes separately have to wait until December 1st to make their applications. The software can't handle their situation yet.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 10:06:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. (4+ / 0-)

        There's another reason for the focus on young people, aside from getting more healthy people in the pool. So many of them don't have insurance:

        Obamacare is depending on a lot of those young people to sign up, which is also why the campaign with those creepy Uncle Sam videos is geared directly to that age group and why they work on college campuses.

        I certainly agree that there are probably a lot of middle-aged people in good health that will help out by getting in the pool. But the number of young people, combined with their effect on premiums, leads me to believe that the success or failure of ACA hinges on getting them signed up.

        It worries me that I'm right about that, and here's why. Premiums for young adults will be more expensive than pre-ACA rates in order to offset the cost of adding sick people in the pool.

        If so many young people don't have insurance because they can't afford it, how will they afford it after premiums become even more expensive?

        I know about the subsidies, and that helps, but those come in the form of tax credits -- the full premium still has to be shelled out every month. For people who couldn't afford the previous lower premiums, that's gonna be tough. It also isn't very comforting to hear about how much better this insurance is if someone can't afford it in the first place.

        I hope that you're right, and they do get on board. The law is here to stay, and I directly benefit from its success -- I need health insurance, and ACA success means I'll save money (along with everyone else).

    •  People Having Trouble On The Website Can Call (5+ / 0-)

      the call center for help and to be enrolled.

      We can help you complete the entire application process from beginning to end with information you provide over the phone, including reviewing your options and helping you enroll in a plan. We can also answer questions as you fill out an online or paper application. We’re available 24/7.


      TTY: 1-855-889-4325

      "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

      by kerplunk on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 12:28:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You don't have to shop only through the (5+ / 0-)

    ACA website, do you?

    We haven't begun taking a look at our options yet, but a quick google revealed this U.S. News and World report tool:

    They rate the plans to help you decide, too.

    Consumer Reports has some tools, also.

  •  "Difficult" is not "bad" (7+ / 0-)

    I often tell people that no matter their job, their career is to manage their personal finances. Banking services. Tax preparation. Personal and asset insurance. Getting your bills paid on time without penalty. Some, you do yourself, some, you outsource. It's complicated, important, and there's a lot of companies making a lot of money overselling and overcharging you.

    When was the last time we had a national conversation about any of this? I know people who write a single bounced check to themselves, and pay their bills in cash, because they think that a $35 NSF fee on $400 is a great two week loan. Banks don't want you to think otherwise.

    This is important, and it's not easy, nor should it be.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 10:16:15 AM PDT

  •  In a society where we know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that too many options make people walk away from making any choice (retirement funding for example) I can't understand the efficacy or wisdom of a marketplace with 135 options. Freeeedumbzzz!
    That said,glad to hear you've better options for your family than were there before.Many others do,too and that is a very good thing. Glitches in the signup are not going to be the defining experience(s)re: the matter how much lazy,brain dead reporters & GOP operatives want to make it so.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 10:39:27 AM PDT

  •  This is not true everywhere (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elfling, erush1345, worldlotus, HiBob

    In northern California, you have a handful of choices through the state exchange. Aetna and United Healthcare are exiting the California individual insurance market entirely effective next year.

    Some localities have even fewer choices, so I understand.

  •  Sorry your state opted out (11+ / 0-)

    of doing its own exchange.  In my state, Hawai'i the experience was easy peasy and I'm going to save $5,000 per year as well as getting more things covered.

    Before this I could never change plans due to pre-existing health problems.

    Yaaaaaaa for ACA!!!!

  •  Is Sean Hannity mental derangement over Obamacare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Covered under Foxnews healthcare plan,what about his past delusion of Obama not becoming President again

  •  State exchanges working great (7+ / 0-)

    For the most part, the state exchanges are working excellent. So almost all the problems with the federal ACA website can be blamed on the stupid republican controlled states who refused to setup their own exchanges. Boo to the Supreme Court and boo to these asshole states dragging the whole system down.

    Funny how this is completely ignored, even by people who should know better, like Chris Hayes on MSNBC (although Hayes is wising up now.)

    Everything I write is within a margin of error of precisely 100%.

    by Bailey Savings and Loan on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 05:21:03 PM PDT

  •  I love the NHS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and am very grateful that I have never had to worry about my inherited dodgy kidneys

    Sometimes choice can be overrated. Choice does provide market incentives for better performance, but where there is no or little spare capacity, choice is only for those with the biggest elbows or wallets.

    Mitt Romney, wasn't good enough to beat the guy that wasn't good enough to beat George W. Bush .

    by ewan husarmee on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 04:04:53 AM PDT

  •  I have a question about non-profit hospitals (0+ / 0-)

    part of the fear-mongering is that non-profits will not be able to care for uninsured children.  I have no idea where to start looking into this (and, yes, I looked at the text of the ACA regarding non-profits and was totally lost.)  

    If this has been covered elsewhere, I would appreciate a link.

    Die Gedanken Sind Frei--Hans Litten (Thoughts are free--Hans Litten)

    by Powered Grace on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 06:41:58 AM PDT

    •  I don't think there's any reason (0+ / 0-)

      for children to be uninsured.

      There are various state and federal programs, especially if your income is not great. And if your income is really good, you'd have to be an idiot not to already have health insurance.

    •  The ACA gutted "disproportionate share" funds (0+ / 0-)

      that were awarded to hospitals who could prove they had more uninsured patients than they statistically should have. These funds have been sliding downward for the last 15 years, but the ACA slashed them more.

      The offset was that there would be fewer uninsured and these funds wouldn't be needed. It looks like hospitals in states that accepted the Medicaid expansion will not have this problem because there will be fewer uninsured as planned. States like Florida and Texas will see non-profit hospitals lose millions of dollars with disproportionate share funds essentially gone.

      If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

      by JDWolverton on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 04:43:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Continuing this in hearing this AM, pretending (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that HEPA is disregarded in signing up for healthcare. But it is not as only questions involving basic ID are asked, SS, dob, names. No health info. NONE!

    But the damn GOp is hell bent on scaring people!

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 07:54:18 AM PDT

  •  ACA is going to work out fine (4+ / 0-)

    Alot of people will get decent coverage.  I think we will find there still are holes mainly because of republican dipshit governors who refused medicaid expansion but I think even that will get ironed out in time.  Do I still see room for a public option?  Yes, but I think ACA as currently designed must play out a couple of years.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Riane Eisler

    by noofsh on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 10:22:03 AM PDT

    •  Fixes actually needed: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gfv6800, Tennessee Dave

      1. do something about the medicaid cliff.  If we can't get states to expand medicaid we need to take the money and extend the exchange subsidies to thae below 100% poverty level population, on a sliding scale from 2% of AGI to 0% based on income.

      2. do something about the 50-employee rule cliff.  Again, sliding scale rather than a fixed number.

      3. do something about the catch-22 where the adequacy of employer coverage is based on family coverage not individual coverage.

      4. rainbow colored pony wish: medicare buy-in as a public option.  Maybe on a progressive age scale over a number of years to avoid disruption.

      We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 01:03:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Never able to get on (3+ / 0-)

    my health or dental insurance sites, been a member 8 years. I have to call or use snail mail. I get the feeling some people have had little or no interweb experiences with those tubes.

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 11:17:28 AM PDT

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