Comparing health insurance policy and prices

The city of Houston is launching a website that provides one-stop information for health insurance. It's similar to the site the city put together that let's people compare electric providers. Capella Tucker reports the new site let's people compare health plans and prices.

The Houston area continues to rank high in the number of people without health insurance. Access and affordability are just two of the challenges people face, especially if the companies they work for don’t offer coverage. Elena Marks is director of Health and Environmental Policy with the city of Houston. She says people tend to have a high level of skepticism when researching health insurance information.

“There are a lot of websites that can give you a lot of information about health insurance products. The vast majority of them are commercial in nature and so somebody is trying to sell you something.”

The city’s website strives to be a place to compare policies.
Laurie Robinson worked with the city to develop the website. She says it was difficult to get information from insurance companies.

“They have to be a local provider with a local network and they have to have a B+ rating with the department of insurance.”

Robinson says people do have a choices, but officials note that many of the choices are for full coverage. Houston Mayor Bill White says insurance companies should offer more varities in levels of coverage. White hopes that a one-stop information gathering site will bring about more competition.

“By putting the market pressure on the industry we hope and we’d ask people in Austin and D.C. to help us put regulatory pressure to help, to encourage people to provide products like that.”

Capella Tucker, KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.