A HealthPocket study found that no plans awarded the highest five star rating by the government are offered to consumers through private exchanges; however, five-star plans are available through Medicare.gov in three of eight markets surveyed including Chicago, Dallas and New York.
"Our analysis shows that the private sector has some work to do to keep up with the government in offering a more complete picture," said Steve Zaleznick, executive director for Consumer Strategy and Development at HealthPocket.
Though gaps were found in government options, only 41% of Medicare Advantage plans and 49% of Medicare Part D plans were found in private exchanges compared to the federally-run medicare.gov. The private marketplaces provided 34% of the options offered by the government for individual and family plans (IFP) at healthcare.gov.
"Given the increasing role of both private and government exchanges in health plan decisions, consumers need to be aware of what they are and are not seeing online," Zaleznick said.
People shopping in the individual health and Medicare markets obtain their coverage in a number of ways. They can buy their plan through these websites, via agents and brokers, or directly through the carriers.
Private exchanges are considered the online marketplaces of health insurance and related products, including web brokers. The discrepancy in what is available online is important for consumers to be aware of since by October 1, 2013, government-operated online health insurance marketplaces will be in place in every state.