New Web tool helps small businesses find health insurance

By Maryalene LaPonsie on November 21st, 2011

The federal government's health reform website has been upgraded with a new tool that allows small businesses to compare health insurance quotes. The small-business tool provides information on 2,700 plans from 530 insurers.

"This new information will help business owners navigate what has traditionally been a complicated and confusing decision," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press statement. "Both owners and their employees can feel more confident that the plans offered will be the best to suit everyone's needs."

The tool complements an existing service on the site that allows individuals to find and compare health insurance rates.

Because small businesses have fewer employees, they often pay more for comparable health insurance coverage than larger employers. Small businesses spend an average of 18 percent more for health insurance plans than bigger companies, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Detailed information on health insurance

The new tool goes beyond providing health insurance quotes. It also includes product information about out-of-pocket costs, benefit restrictions and other details. Small businesses can use the government website to:

  • Search for health insurance plans by ZIP code.
  • Sort results for out-of-pocket costs, average cost per enrollee and other criteria.
  • View summaries that include deductible and co-pay options as well as additional benefits available for purchase.
  • Filter results based upon eligibility for health savings accounts.
  • Compare coverage options for things such as prescription drugs, and mental health and maternity services. You can also find plans that extend coverage to domestic partners.

"Tens of thousands of small businesses from across America have already logged on to www.HealthCare.gov to see what health coverage options are available to them," said Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, in a press statement. "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."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandated the creation of the federal health care website and health insurance rates comparison tool.

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