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eHealthInsurance (also known as eHealth) is one of the largest health insurance brokerage companies in the United States. They operate primarily through their website (eHealthInsurance.com) and have agreements with health care providers in all 50 states to sell insurance directly to individuals, families and small businesses.
eHealth allows users to view different health insurance plans available within their state and compare the features side-by-side. eHealth is not an insurance company, so nothing is actually underwritten by them. Instead they are a broker that connects customers with health care providers. They also can act as a middleman once a policy has been purchased if the customer would rather deal with them on some issues than the actual insurance company.
Their website has recently gone through a complete overhaul, with the layout, functionality and logo all being things that were changed. The new logo promotes the company as eHealth, rather than the traditional eHealthInsurance name.
As previously mentioned, eHealth is not an actual insurance company. Therefore, this section will focus on the products they are licensed to sell rather than the ones they underwrite.
Individual Health Insurance
Individuals and families looking to buy health insurance on the open market can do so through eHealthInsurance.com. While they do not have agreements to sell for every insurance carrier in each state, they are for the most part able to sell plans from the majority of the large companies like Kaiser, Aetna and Humana.
Short Term Health Insurance
Anyone finding themselves with a short-term need for health insurance can look at plans through eHealth. This type of coverage is often used when someone is between jobs or while on a temporary leave from an organization that would typically offer health care coverage. These plans are often expensive and carry high deductibles, so they are only recommended as a stop-gap measure when no other options are available.
Group Health Insurance
Small businesses looking to obtain coverage for their employees can use eHealth as their broker.
In addition to health care coverage, eHealthInsurance also acts as a broker for many vision and dental insurance carriers. The plans available can be viewed directly on their website, and are specific for each state.
eHealth and the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare)
The new health care laws have quite an impact on eHealth and how they are able to do business. I am going to go off script here and write in the first person so I can explain my findings while researching eHealth for this review.
During the research phase for this review (October 2013) I called and spoke with the sales department for eHealthInsurance and asked them about the new laws and how that impacted their ability to sell health insurance going forward. Particularly how it impacted the federal subsidies that are available to individuals and families making under a certain amount of income every year.
It has previously been thought that in order for an individual to qualify for the federal subsidies they MUST purchase their plan through the state exchanges (or federal exchanges when the state did not set one up). I interpreted that to mean brokers (like eHealth) would be cut out. However, after speaking with an agent, it sounds as if that is only partially true.
The agent I spoke with said that they are able to set up individuals and families with coverage through the exchanges in most states, thus being able to act as the broker and get their customers the subsidies. Unfortunately, this is not the case for every state. According to the agent, these are the states in which eHealth CANNOT get an individual a health plan through the exchange, and thus CANNOT get any subsidies for the customer:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington – Existing customers exempt
- California – Existing customers exempt
So what that means as a consumer is if you qualify for a federal subsidy when purchasing health insurance and you live in one of the above listed states, you will probably want to go through the exchange itself and not eHealthInsurance.
This may change in the future as the kinks in the new rules get ironed out, and we will be sure and update this as we come across new information.
(Employees of eHealth are invited to email us if and when this information changes. Please use the Contact page)
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eHealth does not add a broker fee or surcharge to the policies they sell. They are paid directly by the underwriting insurance company so the cost of buying a policy through eHealth is the same is purchasing it directly through the health care provider or any other non-fee broker.
Consumer Research and Complaints
At the time of this writing, eHealthInsurance has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They have been accredited with the BBB since 2012 and have 68 complaints filed against them in the last three years, 25 of which occurred in the previous 12 months. According to the BBB website, the number one problem customers have with eHealthInsurance is regarding their advertising and sales. Close behind in the number two spot is “Problems with Service.” Of the 68 complaints in the last three years, 55 were resolved with the help of the Better Business Bureau, and 13 resolutions were not deemed satisfactory by the complainant. However, the BBB felt eHealth made a “good faith effort” to fix the issue.
eHealthInsurance is a great place for people that are savvy about health insurance and are capable of purchasing coverage for themselves with minimal assistance. They do provide licensed agents that can be contacted over the phone, so many basic questions can be answered pretty easily.
Health insurance is very complicated and little details can mean the difference between getting proper coverage and leaving yourself vulnerable in key areas. Be sure and get all the information about a plan before purchasing, and if you have any questions make sure you get them answered in a manner that you can understand.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.