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Click Your Way to Better Health

HealthCare.gov gives you the tools to find the best coverage.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has taken the lead in carrying out the massive health-care-reform law.

KIPLINGER: What can people learn at HealthCare.gov?

SEBELIUS: You will get a snapshot of which health-insurance options are available, including public and private plans. The site includes information from more than 1,000 insurance companies with more than 5,500 plan offerings. Some folks may find that they qualify for public plans they didn't know about. A lot of parents don't have any idea that their kids qualify for CHIP [the Children's Health Insurance Program], for instance. There's a whole section on preventive care. Safe to say, there will be far more information to help you to investigate the marketplace. The site will eventually be the portal for the state-based insurance exchanges when they are up and running in 2014. We're trying to make it a one-stop destination for health information.

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Was it hard to get insurance companies on board?

When we made our first request to the insurers, we got some good information and some sketchy information. We told them they'd be side by side with their competitors, and they stepped up their game a little bit. I believe that competition starts with transparency, and it's hard to get a competitive market if people don't know what it looks like. We don't want to be an insurance broker. We want to provide a non-marketing tool to help people gather information about the private market.

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Can consumers get pricing information?

That will be added in October. Because the individual and small-group markets in most states still allow medical underwriting, we'll need some additional information from individuals to know if their price per month for coverage will be, say, $300 or $700. But we're not collecting or storing personal information.

What else will be added to the site?

Medical-loss ratios [which show the percentage of premiums that goes toward medical care versus administrative costs] will be listed. We also hope to add market-conduct reports [which provide detail on an insurer's sales practices and customer service]. For now, if you contact an insurance company for a quote and something doesn't seem right or doesn't make sense, check with the state insurance commissioner.

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