So, how do I compare private health care online without salesmen?

I’m within a few years of that “retire or keep working a while?” question, part of that decision is around health care for the decade+ until medicare starts kicking in. While I realize that while the GOP controls the government it’s hard to be have any idea what will be available in a year or two (particularly around the ACA exchanges), I have a much simpler question:

How do you even compare plans? I tried to do this, and found dozens, maybe hundreds of sites that let you “compare,” but they all work the same way: give us a bunch of personal information then a salesman will call you with options.

I don’t need a salesman to read documents to me, and oddly the amount of commission the salesman receives for a plan turns out NOT to be my primary decision factor in choosing a plan. I just want to look get real quotes or reasonably realistic ballpark estimates, NOT have someone call/e-mail/text me crap (I’m not looking to buy yet; I just need an idea how much/month I’ll have to budget for it later.)

Is there a site to do this online, or a better way? Even if I wanted to limit myself to just ACA plans, HealthCare.gov won’t tell me anything unless I’m “special circumstances” outside the enrollment window.

Have you tried www.eHealthInsurance.com ?

I don’t know how Oregon is interacting with the healthcare exchanges, but your first stop should probably be healthcare.gov to see what you qualify for.

Knowing the details of hundreds of plans from different companies and picking the best one for you is exactly what an agent (whether health, home, or auto) is good for, as well as acting as an advocate if you have an issue with coverage. Insurance companies get a lot of business from agents, so they don’t want to anger them by undercutting them if you buy direct, so they sell direct plans for the same price as what it would cost through an agent.

Sorry, I see you mentioned healthcare.gov in the OP. I’m surprised it doesn’t give you some information to go off of. You really need to know if you are eligible for some sort of assistance in order to compare plans accurately. Unless of course you know for sure you won’t get any help with premiums.

One thing that you didn’t mention was COBRA / Company Retiree Insurance.

My company offers COBRA for 18 months after you retire, then you can stay on the company plan (until 65) if you pay (most of) the monthly fees. With COBRA at my company, you pay 50% of the monthly fees.

Does your company offer something like this? I found that staying on my company’s plan to be the best. Before COBRA ended, I researched what was available through the ACA, and it couldn’t shake a stick at my company’s plan. But then, I live in a state that isn’t ACA friendly at all. Maybe you have better options available where you live.

J.

I have an insurance broker. I’m in SoCal, but whatever. My wife’s doctor referred us to her, or I probably wouldn’t have thought about it. She doesn’t work for an insurance company or exchange. She takes a commission from whatever policy she signs you up with. No charge to the consumer. Can’t be that hard to find.

I concur: the way to do it with a health insurance broker. Mine has been a godsend.

Another vote for a broker. But I’m also in CA where the commissions come from the company not the insured. I mean in some sense they come from the entire insured population of the company including you, but it’s not like selling a home where, if you are willing to do a lot of work, you can save money on a broker fee. It is possible that in other states using a broker would cost you more for a given plan than not using a broker, I don’t know.

Thanks! That actually gets me pretty close to what I want, although it’s ACA plans only. (Its does list the “undiscounted” price, too, which is probably what I’d be paying).

Yeah, they pretty much cut you off with “not in the right period,” and I wouldn’t be eligible for any assistance, anyway.

Yeah, that’s not an option so far as I can tell (beyond the 18 month window that everybody offers). I’ve got some years yet, though, so I should start lobbying the company now :slight_smile:

I’ll keep this in mind downstream, but since I’m not actually going to buy any plan now (I just want prices to I can do financial planning for the future), a broker probably isn’t a current option.

Thanks for all the replies!

Bear in mind that most information that you can find will just focus on the superficial economics.

Personally, I’m not particularly concerned about whether my copays or deductible are a little higher or lower. What’s far more important is whether I can get access to the best specialists if something really bad happens to me, in other words how broad the plan’s network is. I found that it was really quite difficult to assess this unless you have a highly specific question (is Doctor X in-network?).

For some definition of superficial. I’m not concerned about co-pays or deductables as much as I am the many hundreds of dollars/month of baseline cost. Most of them (for a family of two my age) are comparable to a house payment.

It’s easy to understand why supposedly millions of otherwise-retirement-ready people in the US are forced to keep working solely for health insurance (and thus “using up” jobs that could go to the younger workforce if we weren’t asinine about wanting to pay twice as much as the rest of the world just to keep brown people from maybe getting some health coverage).

Ok. But I’m not quite sure why you replied to my suggestion that you try to look into network coverage, to a lecture on how expensive healthcare premiums are.

You have a good company. Mine didn’t subsidize COBRA at all, though since it was the negotiated rate it was still a lot cheaper than ACA plans, and let me keep all my doctors. And it was only good for 18 months. My retirement got scheduled so my wife went on Medicare before it ran out.