Health Insurance: Like Buying Shoes?

Health Insurance: Like Buying Shoes?

A new online marketplace to buy health insurance is scheduled to be available October 2013--but some say, like shoes, buying it online is chancy.
The Affordable Care Act requires everyone in the U.S. has health insurance by January 2014.

Online marketplaces are scheduled to be set up for Kentuckians by October to make it easier.

"Think about it as a shopping mall that you can enter and make your purchases that way," said Kentucky Department of Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark.

Others said it won't be so easy, however.

"Health insurance is an extremely critical decision for individuals and families. And without the help of someone really almost sitting beside a person, that online experience--while it sounds very simple--is gonna be very very difficult for people to deal with," said Michael Embry, Region 3 Vice President for the National Association of Health Underwriters.

So, for those whose business is something a little simpler--like shoes--they say online isn't the way to go.

"The descriptions of insurance and the descriptions of shoes...you're not going to get exactly the full picture online. Whereas you come in here [Howard Curry Shoes], you're going to see exactly what you're getting," said Robert Burton, Co-Manager of Howard Curry Shoes, a shoe store in Lexington.

While there will be benefits to the online system (online support; side-by-side comparisons of different companies and insurances), some families said they'd rather stick to the tried-and-true method--both in buying shoes, AND in buying insurance.

"I would prefer to sit down and talk to someone, so I would know what's going on. It's easier that way for us. So this is what we prefer...to come out to the store," said Wantrice Kaime.
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