New Online Tool Helps Takes Guesswork out of Buying Health Insurance.

I had the chance this week to talk with James S. Downey, an insurance agent from San Diego, CA, who is working to change the way that small employer groups and individuals go about selecting their health insurance plans. Downey, who has been a life and health agent since 1974, is using web-based technology to enable health insurance buyers to make purchase decisions based on the total cost of the plan, and not just the premiums.

Downey’s website, SuperAgent.com, can be used by health insurance brokers and agents in California to help insurance purchasers compare the total cost of any health plan currently being sold in California.

“In California, there are over 180 small group plans. And it’s almost impossible to compare them all in every detail – HMO, PPO, maximum out-of-pocket, deductible limits, co-pay to name a few,” Downey said. “In fact, that requires running 1,905,120 comparison outcomes per employee!”

Here is all that SuperAgent does, it:

1. Analyzes all health plan carriers for a given group of employees, taking into account their ages, families, tax bracket and rating area.

2. Ranks each carrier by the percentage saved over the current plan.

3. Measures the differences between health insurance carriers.

4. Identifies the best value health plans and shows how they perform at different claim levels.

5. Evaluates and graphs every plan based on various claim scenarios.

6. Determines which plan offers the greatest benefit and lowest risk and cost.

7. Analyzes every plan upon the predictive analysis of morbidity studies.

8. Automatically completes enrollment forms downloading personal information for you.

Downey explained that most employers and employees select health plans based on the premium cost alone. The SuperAgent tool also takes into account deductibles, co-pay amounts and out-of-pocket limits to take into account the total cost of the plan. The tool then makes it easy to identify the health plan that is the best value for each employee based on their individual health care spending patterns and it graphically illustrates the best plan for them to buy.

Downey said that he is just now launching the site in California and is licensing access to the tool to other agents for a monthly fee. He said that, while the engine is ready for other states, he has no immediate plans to expand the service beyond California.

Tools like SuperAgent holds promise to lower health care costs by clearly showing insurance buyers what they are buying. To see a demo of the SuperAgent tools go to: http://superagent.com/demo.html.

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