State unveils in-depth health plan comparison website

Insurance Department portal includes comparison of networks, deductibles, quality


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You know how much the health care plans cost that you want to provide for employees. The premiums are easy to compare. But what about comparing such things as deductibles, networks and quality?

Since Wednesday, there is now a way to do just that, online, courtesy of the NH Insurance Department.

Ever since the Affordable Care Act, there have been loads of online tools for consumers to use to pick an individual plan on the exchange. In addition to the federal portal, the Insurance Department set up its own NH Health Cost website, revamped last year, that looks at the cost of certain procedures and quality measures of certain providers, for instance.

But most people still get their health insurance through their employer, and the job of finding out that information has fallen to the employer to make the decisions for its employees. Last year, the department commissioned a study and found that companies needed more information than just price, so it hired a third party to worked with an employer advisory panel to develop the employer resources page.

“Our new employer section gives the state’s businesses valuable information about health insurance companies' network designs and cost-sharing requirements so they can choose the right health plan options for their organizations,” said Commissioner Roger Sevigny.

Some of the information available has already been compiled by third-party nonprofits. If you want to find out member and quality satisfaction with a number of plans, then you can click on the National Committee on Quality Assurance page, where you’ll find that little-known Martin’s Point U.S. Family Health Plan gets high marks for customer satisfaction, but Anthem wins when it comes to preventive services.

You’ll find that Anthem has slightly fewer complaints per 1,000 than Harvard Pilgrim, and that Harvard Pilgrim handles claims quicker than United Health, and Cigna is rated the highest for handling claims correctly.

But most of the data is compiled by the department itself. Go to the Compare Carrier Hospital Networks and click on a particular plan, and you will get a map that will show which plan has hospitals in your area, or you can compare plans side by side to see which hospitals are in or out of a network.

If you want to see how high your $5,000 deductible is, go to the Fully Insured page. You’ll learn that less than a quarter have an even higher deductible, but most have a much lower one.

Or you can compare specific plans with the Small Group Comparison Tool, where you will be able to download onto an Excel spread sheet all sorts of parameters, such as medal level, deductible out-of-pocket maximum, copays and the consumer-adjusted premium rate. You can filter any of these parameters, so you can just look at “silver” plans, or just at plans with low deductibles. Or you can pick a few plans and put them side by side.

The site also provides some educational material, a comparison of self-insured and fully insured options, and looks at various value-based payment systems.

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