As a followup to his column Saturday (and our blog report), Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein exposes the nation to the ease of using the Connector website to compare and purchase plans, by highlighting a Bay State reader’s comment:
I’m a resident of MA, although I get insurance through my employer, where this year we were able to choose between a whopping two different insurance plans. Out of curiosity, I went to the website of the MA health connector, and I would recommend it as an enlightening exercise to you and any other interested readers.
If you click through a few options describing your situation, you’ll get to a page that displays your choices for a health plan (if you lived in MA). It is nothing short of astounding. All the different plans are clearly arranged in a table according to the benefit level they offer, with out-of-pocket costs clearly indicated. For any given level of benefits, you can see all the companies offering that type of plan and the monthly premium. Not-so-surprisingly, it becomes perfectly clear that some companies offer a given plan at 50% higher cost than others. It’s no small wonder then that competition is driving down premiums in the exchange. Now this is what a health care marketplace looks like!
Note that the ease of comparison was greatly enhanced last year when the Connector moved to standardize the plans within each coverage tier. Previously, the plans were grouped by “actuarial value,” which confused prospective purchasers and made direct comparisons impossible. Now the standardized plans simplifies the comparison and promotes direct competition. We’ve been urging other states to learn from this and other lessons of Massachusetts as they set up their own exchanges.