New Feature on Healthcare.Gov Allows Comparison of Insurance Plans

VIDEO: The website helps families figure out health care benefits, pricing and options.
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The Obama administration today launched a new feature on healthcare.gov which allows people to search for insurance plans in their area.

In the new "Find Insurance Options" section on the site, people can fill out a form with basic medical and demographic information. They will be prompted about the different options they have, and a selection of health insurance plans that are available, including price and restrictions.

People will be able to compare information such as monthly premium estimates, annual deductibles, out-of-pocket limits and services covered.

"Today's unveiling of the updated Insurance Finder will shine some sunlight on the details of how these insurance options actually work," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote on a blog posted on the White House web site. "It's a huge step toward making the health care system more transparent -- and making insurance companies more accountable to you."

The administration also launched a web site for Spanish speakers, CuidadodeSalud.gov, where those people can access the same information.

Today's launch is part of the administration's push to create more awareness about the new health care law and make information more readily available to consumers, a majority of which still don't know what the changes mean for them. It also comes among growing opposition from Republican lawmakers, who argue that the law should be repealed.

Experts contacted by ABC News found healthcare.gov itself to be a step in the right direction, but had differing opinions on what information is valuable and what is missing.

"Even for someone my age and not particularly adept at Web site navigation, it is easy to get around and seems to be useful," said Paul Duncan, chair of the Department of Health Services Research, Management and Policy at the University of Florida. "I think it is a remarkable achievement in a very short period of developmental time."

But others say the site doesn't give information about each provision of the Affordable Care Act.

"I think that it would have been beneficial for the site to provide a link, when discussing each provision of the Affordable Care Act, that provides the rationale for that particular provision in the law," said Mark Peterson, professor of Public Policy and Political Science at UCLA. "Understanding what the laws does, or does not do, and what it has the potential to do well, or poorly, would be helped by knowing more about the underlying issues."

Six months after the passage of the health care law, more than half of Americans are still confused about it, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released earlier this week.

Fifty-three percent of Americans are in the dark about what the new law means. Misperceptions also abound; three in ten seniors polled mistakenly believe that the new law will permit government panels to make decisions about their end-of-life care, dubbed death panels by some.

Republicans are vowing to repeal and replace the health care law if they regain majority control of the House.

"We've made it clear we want a repeal of Obamacare and to replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday.

Sebelius on Thursday blamed misinformation and attacks by health care critics as the reason Americans are unaware of the changes they will see.

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