With the Obamacare deadline coming up on March 31, there are several websites to help compare available plans. The government website is usually working, but there are delays and messages between steps. There are also private web sites, and individual company web sites which will help you get signed up for plans.
You can look at the plans available on the healthcare.gov website without creating an account, by clicking the "See Plans" circle. You will have to give your state and county, age, number of other family members, and estimated income before seeing the list of plans. If you don't see the 3 circles, click on "Learn" at the top of the screen.
Get Covered America gives more information about the process. It has four links: a sample savings calculator, frequently asked questions under "Get Covered 101”, a list of local places you can go for help, and then a link that takes your phone number and forwards you to healthcare.gov to start enrollment.
Either way, the next step is to fill out a detailed application. This step will require entering the Social Security numbers of everyone who will be on your plan.. The step will use one of three choices for your estimated income, use the amount from your 2012 taxes, monthly income x12, or estimated yearly income.
When your eligibility check is finished, or if the system is down, you will get an e-mail message “You have a new message waiting for you in your Marketplace account. click here to log in and read the message.“ If your eligibility report instead of a message saying the system is down is there when you go back to the website, you should download it to read it. You will have to download the messages as PDF files.
From there, navigating to the list available plans is a bit tricky. Click on the title of your current application, clicking on “Apply for new coverage” will take you back to re-entering personal information. On the next page, click the green “Resume Enrollment” button, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click “SET”
This will bring up an explanation that gold pays 80% of average costs, silver pays 70%, bronze pays 60% , platinum pays 90%, and catastrophic only covers major costs. Then the site shows a table of available plans, which are sorted by “metal”. You can pick one metal, or view all 45 plans. Some companies are offering more than one plan for each metal. The links for brochures will take you to the company's explanation of the differences beyond the basic percentage they pay.
A private alternative website is ehealthinsurance.com, the link behind eHealth ads on various web sites. You have to fill out a forn with your phone number, and they will call repeatedly. The list of plans was a bit different (45 plans on healthcare.gov, 49 but no catastrophic plans on ehealthinsurance.com) The companies listed on the Healthcare.gov website are Blue Care Network of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Priority Health, HAP, and Consumers Mutual Insurance of Michigan. Companies with plans on the eHealthInsurance.com website are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Humana, HAP Personal Alliance, UnitedHealthcare, and Aetna. The cheapest bronze plan listed was the Blue Cross\Blue Shield Select Bronze plan either way, prices vary for each person, so you may see different results.