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10/09/2013

Want to see Obamacare policies? Try Blue Cross Blue Shield

More than a week after the launch of the Healthcare.gov website that Texans are supposed to use to shop for health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, we still haven't managed to actually see a policy. Like a lot of people, judging by media reports, even after creating an account we get a blank page when we try to sign in. But here's a way you can see half the policies offered on the Health Insurance Marketplace, commonly called the exchange: Go to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas' own web site at www.bcbstx.com/health-insurance-shopping-guide

Unlike the government's site, Blue Cross lets you browse their site without creating an account, which by this account is the cause of the big problems Healthcare.gov is having. All the insurer's site wants are the things that actually matter when you're comparison shopping: your age, gender, zip code and whether or not you use tobacco (a big no-no, by the way). And if you want to get into the weeds of whether you qualify for a tax credit subsidy or not, the site can do that, too, but it's optional. Kind of a nice, keep-it-simple approach, don't you think? You can't buy a plan and also get the tax subsidy on the Blue Cross site, but you'll get a good idea of what it's going to cost you. Then you can wait for the government to work the bugs out of their site. You can't get coverage that starts before Jan. 1 anyway, and you only need to buy a policy by Dec. 15 in order for your coverage to start Jan. 1, so you've got plenty of time.

Incidentally, we posted a PDF version of the plans available in Tarrant County last week, after it became clear the government's site was off to a rocky start. It's not terribly easy to use and it doesn't have all the information you want, like deductibles and out of pocket maximums, but it's better than nothing. It's here: Download Tarrant Exchange plans

-- Jim Fuquay

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