The last time you bought health insurance, how did you do it? Did you ask your friends and family, and just go with what they picked? Did you let your employer do all of the decisionmaking and just go with the flow? Did you avoid buying it, hoping your injuries would be covered under a "cross your fingers and hope for the best" plan?
Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, those are all pretty terrible ways to make a decision when your health – physical and financial – is hanging in the balance.
The good news is, there’s a better way to find the ideal plan for your needs with the new PolicyGenius health insurance app.
After seeing – and solving – the pain points millions of Americans face when researching and buying insurance on their own, we’re tackling the insurance that people legally need: health insurance. And just like we’ve done in the past, we made it easy, accessible, and quick to obtain.
If you need a second opinion (or more), here are a few of the nation’s top personal finance experts who think PolicyGenius’ new health insurance app is the perfect solution to consumer shopping woes:
But we’re going to give you more information than just a few soundbites, even if one of them is calling our app "revolutionary." Here’s exactly what PolicyGenius’ health insurance app means for your shopping experience:
Plain English explanations, seriously
If you don’t know what deductible, co-pay, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket-maximum mean, then you’re not alone. A recent survey we conducted showed that only 4% of respondents could properly define all four terms. Can you imagine if we ran other sectors of our financial life that way? What if you didn’t know what a "late fee" was, or if you didn’t understand what "interest" meant? Since medical debt is responsible for 60% of personal bankruptcies, health insurance is as important to our bank accounts as it is to our health.
We kept that in mind when designing our health insurance shopping experience. You won’t find any confusing jargon or industry lingo that goes unexplained. Don’t know what a tax credit means for you? Find out on the step where we’re calculating any federal subsidies you might be eligible for. What’s a premium and a deductible? We’ll tell you when we’re helping you set your health insurance budget. How does needing a referral affect the plans you can get? Yep, we’ll walk you through that, too.
This is your health insurance plan. You need to understand it. And maybe the underpinnings of health insurance aren’t intuitive, but shopping for it should be. We want to explain what you need to know in a way you’ll understand. When some terms inevitably need a little more explanation, we have help options – not to mention a team of experts and an entire resource center – ready to walk you through the process.
Pick the options you need
It would be nice if we could get everything we wanted in a plan we could afford, but the honest truth is that you’re going to have to make compromises when it comes to picking a plan that fits in your budget.
We like to call this the health insurance "balancing act." Would you prefer to pay high premiums up front and hit your deductible more quickly, or pay less each month but foot your medical bills for longer? How much did you pay out of pocket last year? Do you want a cheaper plan or the ability to go outside of your doctor network and see specialists more easily? Are you willing to pay more for brand name prescription drugs, or do you need more cost-effective generics?
You’ll have to make some important decisions during your shopping process based on your specific needs, and what better way make a decision than with all the information laid out for you? When you’re going through the PolicyGenius health insurance app, we’ll ask you how much you can afford to pay in terms of your premium and deductible, your doctors and your medications. Then you’ll rank each of these benefit features as a "must-have" or a "nice-to-have" in your final plan.
When you’re comparing plans, we’ll show them by ranking your must-haves and nice-to-haves. That way, you’ll be able to see what’s really important to you; if you’d like to continue seeing Dr. Johnson but if you see she’s only covered by a plan that’s way outside your budget, you might be willing to compromise and choose a plan that’s within your price range and includes your must-haves and most of your nice-to-haves (even if Dr. Johnson is left out).
We’ll also make sure you see options that include subsidies and discounts you’re eligible for. Two and a half million people who are eligible for federal subsidies aren’t using them, which means they’re overpaying for their health insurance. If you’re eligible for a subsidy or Medicaid assistance, we’ll let you know up front. That way, when you’re making your balancing act choices, you’ll know that you’re getting the absolute best price and aren’t missing out on any savings opportunities.
Compare the most plans available online – on- and off-exchange
When Obamacare first launched, Healthcare.gov was at the top of the news cycles. Part of that was because it had a somewhat disastrous launch, but that’s also the main portal to buy on-exchange plans – plans that are available on marketplaces run by the government (some states have their own exchanges, like Covered California). When you heard about big insurers, like Aetna and UnitedHealthcare, leaving states, it was pulling out of government marketplaces, ostensibly because some of the restrictions for those plans were unprofitable.
But with a private marketplace like PolicyGenius, you’ll see all of the same plans available on Healthcare.gov, along with off-exchange plans. Off-exchange plans follow most, but not all, of the guidelines set forth for on-exchange plans. You’ll still get the same consumer protections like the ten essential benefits, but some restrictions don’t apply, meaning you might be able to get more affordable rates for essentially (or, sometimes, literally) the same plan.
This is all to say that with PolicyGenius, you can rest assured that you’re seeing all of your options. You won’t need to worry that you could be getting a better deal elsewhere, because we have all of the on-exchange and off-exchange plans available to you.
But don’t worry about getting overwhelmed by all of these plans; we’ve made them easy to compare. Health insurance plans are rarely apples-to-apples – there are those tradeoffs we talked about early – so you want to be able to see everything that’s available and truly compare them based on their own merits, right? In addition to easily seeing which plans meet your priorities, you can sort them by carrier, plan type, and metal tier, and even bring up side-by-side comparisons to see differences at a glance.
More of a visual learner? We’ve built in a handy chart that maps plans by premium and deductible, and color codes them so you know where each one ranks in terms of meeting your priorities.
In the end, we wanted to make buying health insurance as easy to buy as we did with other insurance types. We can’t understate the importance of understanding your health insurance: it’s a big part of your budget every month, and you use it more often than you do, say life insurance. We took great care to make sure everything was as easy and intuitive to use as possible, because you only have a short period to apply.
Open Enrollment ends January 31st, so you don’t have time to mess around. We made sure you won’t have to.