State Exchange Consumer Tools Chart and Map

This new map and accompanying chart take a deeper dive into the anonymous shopping features available on SBM websites during the 2015-16 open enrollment period. Prior to this open enrollment period, many State-based health insurance marketplaces (SBMs) sought to improve the experiences of consumers coming to their marketplace. These enhancements—many highlighted in our series of blogs on open enrollment —intended to improve both the consumer experience on the exchange website as well as the individual’s ability to choose the health plan that is best for them and their family.

Anonymous shopping features enable consumers to shop and compare health plans prior to filling out the full application for coverage based on factors that may be of most importance to the consumer. As consumers shop for insurance, several factors may influence their decisions to purchase coverage, including affordability and plan networks. Many of the changes to shopping tools made for this enrollment season were fueled by a shifting understanding of how consumers comprehend and value these factors. Concern that consumers were placing more importance on premium cost over deductible and/or total cost led Minnesota to change its’ default plan ranking so that plans were sorted based on total out-of-pocket costs instead of premium. Likewise, states such as Connecticut and Kentucky added cost calculators that take medical history into consideration when calculating total costs. Several states have added tools that allow consumers to personalize plan results to reflect individual concerns. In Rhode Island, for instance, consumers can use a slider to customize results based upon how often certain medical services are used. Vermont, Minnesota, Illinois, and the District of Columbia, who share a common cost calculator vendor, provide an estimate of costs in a “bad year” (i.e., a year of poor health) in addition to a yearly estimate.

We hope this map and downloadable comparison chart will be a valuable resource to states as they continue to refine these tools for future open enrollment periods. Know of something we should add to this compilation? Your feedback is central to our ongoing, real-time analytical process, so please email calberts@nashp.org.