Monday, November 28, 2011

Small businesses can now find, compare health insurance plans on HHS website

For the first time ever, an updated Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website will provide local health plan benefits and pricing information for small business owners, the HHS has announced. On a greatly expanded HHS website, small business owners will have access to an unprecedented detailed review of their health insurance plan choices including, for the first time ever, the ability to research locally available products in an unbiased manner, which will foster a more transparent and competitive marketplace.

Just in time for 2012, this powerful new tool allows small business owners to compare the benefits and costs of health plans and choose those that are best for their employees. "This new information will help business owners navigate what has traditionally been a complicated and confusing decision," says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Both owners and their employees can feel more confident that the plans offered will be the best to suit everyone's needs."

Beyond facing difficulties in analyzing the market, small businesses do not fare as well large employers when negotiating health care prices, with statistics showing that, on average, small businesses spend 18 percent more for the same health insurance coverage. This new HHS tool brings needed transparency to the marketplace, which will help ensure insurance companies will compete for business on the basis of price and quality.

The tool is located on, which was created under requirements contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the 2010 health reform law. To access the small business Insurance Finder, go to the home page of and click on the blue tab (called "find insurance options") at the top of the page.

Available information. The new information added gives small business owners access to the following:
  • Insurance product choices for a given ZIP code, sorted by out-of-pocket limits, average cost per enrollee, or other factors;
  • A summary of cost and coverage for small group products that shows the available deductibles, range of co-pay options, included and excluded benefits, and benefits available for purchase at additional cost; and
  • The ability to filter product selection based on whether the plans are Health Savings Account eligible, have prescription drug, mental health, or maternity coverage, or allow for domestic partner or same sex coverage.
More than 530 insurers have provided information for more than 2,700 coverage plans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the HHS says. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services worked to define and collect detailed benefits and premium rating information from insurers across the country to develop the site.

"Tens of thousands of small businesses from across America have already logged-on to to see what health coverage options are available to them," said Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. "The new, unprecedented ability to search at this level of detail will bring the marketplace into better balance by giving insurance purchasers the power of information."

In addition, the website provides extensive information about consumer rights, tips for how to navigate the market's complexities, and details on how the PPACA provides new protections for beneficiaries.


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