An option on the government's health care website allows you to "shop and browse" insurance rates, but you may have sticker shock when it's time to buy. If you go on www.healthcare.gov, you will find a feature called "See Plans Now," which allows you to compare rates from local health insurance providers.
Essentially, if you use this option health care marketplace, you will have to list yourself in one of two age groups: "49-or-under" and "50-or-older". DAKOTACARE's Chief Marketing Officer said these two very broad categories can be misleading.
"We've been inundated with a lot of questions, and we've tried to answer them as best as we can," Jasmer said.
Here is the explanation. The estimates you get in the 49-or-under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay for coverage. In the 50-or-older group, the estimate given is based on what a 50-year-old would pay. What you actually will pay is based on your actual age. So, if you are 80, Jasmer said you will likely pay more for coverage than someone 30 years younger than you. CBS News ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C., ineligible for subsidies. According to HealthCare.gov, she would pay $231 a month, but the actual plan on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina's website costs $360. That is more than 50-percent higher.
"It's a very scary thing from the standpoint, the average consumer out there, when they're looking at sites like this are seeing those prices and are, you know, in a lot of aspects expecting that's what they'll pay," Jasmer said.
Jasmer said this can be even more complicated if you are married.
"If you're a 60-year-old male with a 58-year-old spouse, umm, you could be paying double what they are showing on the site," Jasmer said.
Jasmer said See Plans Now part of the website can be useful, because you can get a broad idea of what health insurance carriers offer. But you should remember this is just a snapshot, and not the full picture.
"Take it with a grain of salt. Do your research," Jasmer said. "There are so many details beyond that that you really need to check out before you go to purchase or before you set your budget on what you're going to be paying for health insurance going forward."