3-step coverage calculator offers consumers a starting point in the search for affordable health insurance coverage

ST. LOUIS PARK, MINN., Jan. 29, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This week, consumers can use a new three-step calculator that offers a starting point in the search for health coverage. The easy-to-use calculator is the latest in a collection of consumer-friendly enrollment tools offered by healthinsurance.org, the longest-running online source of consumer-focused health insurance information.

Louise Norris, author of healthinsurance.org's eBook, The Insider's Guide to Obamacare's Open Enrollment, designed the calculator to be a much-needed launching point for individuals and families who may be uncertain about where they fall on the healthcare system's coverage spectrum.

"Very often, when we hear from site visitors, they are confused simply as to whether their household income makes them eligible for Medicaid or for exchange coverage," says Norris. "Unfortunately, household income alone isn't enough to make that determination, since each state has made its own decision whether or not to expand Medicaid."

And, while some consumers may know that their household income makes them eligible for a private insurance instead of Medicaid, they're often confused about subsidy eligibility. That's a big deal, Norris says, since subsidy eligibility is a key consideration for consumers deciding whether to purchase coverage within an exchange or off-exchange.

"Consumers also tend to be confused about income and plan requirements for receiving a cost-sharing reduction subsidy or a premium subsidy," says Norris. "We designed this tool to make it obvious whether calculator users are eligible for Medicaid, for one or both of the subsidies … or whether their household income is too high for either."

Based on the user's state of residence, household size and household income, the calculator recommends a next step for users. Medicaid eligible users are directed to one of healthinsurance.org's state-specific Medicaid resource guide, while subsidy-eligible users are directed to the site's subsidy calculator. Users who don't appear eligible for Medicaid or subsidies have the option of searching for quotes on ACA-compliant plans in their area.

"The whole calculation process takes just a minute, but it can reduce so much of the uncertainty for individuals who aren't sure how the health reform law affects them and who – as we've seen in many cases – are realizing that they're eligible for coverage and/or subsidies for the very first time," says Norris.

In addition to the coverage calculator, healthinsurance.org offers a subsidy calculator, an Obamacare penalty calculator and a free online quote tool.

Online since 1994, the healthinsurance.org is a consumer guide to information about affordable individual health insurance and medical insurance for families and the self-employed. The site includes news and opinion articles from respected health care writers and health policy experts discussing insurance coverage and the impact of the Affordable Care Act and other health reform legislation. Sections include guides to state-specific health insurance resources, state-by-state guides to ACA's health insurance marketplaces, a state-by-state guide to Medicaid, a health insurance glossary, a directory of consumer insurance resources, a collection of Frequently Asked Questions about health insurance, and access to free online health insurance quotes.

Steve Anderson

(817) 991-9791

CONTACT: Steve Anderson sanderson@healthinsurance.org (817) 991-9791