Expert Advice for Using Online Insurance Marketplaces

Expert Advice for Using Online Insurance Marketplaces

Hunting for health insurance is like trying to find a great gas station while you’re traveling down the highway. Some gas stations are better than others, some are closed, and some aren’t even worth stopping to check out. 

Just as we need gas in our vehicles, we need good health insurance. Sure, you can try to go without quality health insurance, but why risk it? 

Online insurance marketplaces are getting better than ever, have more options than ever, and you can check out information from real people, like when you search for Costco health insurance reviews. We’ll talk about some online insurance marketplaces with you today and provide some insights and each one. 

Important Terminology for Online Health Insurance Shopping

To get the best deals on health insurance, you have to understand what each plan contains. Since there isn’t a human holding your hand through the process, we’ve included more information to help you in your search. Below are some terms that you’ll see over and over as you shop for online health insurance. 


EPO stands for exclusive provider organization, and it’s a healthcare plan where you are only covered if you go to medical providers within the chosen network. Of course, if it’s a true emergency, then it’s important to get to the nearest emergency room. In all other cases, you’ll want to stay within the network. EPOs list their network online so you can see what doctors and specialists are covered. 


HMO stands for health maintenance organization. Like EPOs, you’ll stay within the network. You’re limited to in-network medical services, but you tend to have a much larger network to choose from. Sometimes you will need a referral to see a specialist. 


PPO stands for preferred provider organization. Compared to HMOs and EPOs, you have more flexibility with a PPO because they also pay for out-of-network care. You will get the highest insurance payouts by staying inside the network, and you’ll be able to find specialists without having to be referred by a primary care doctor. 

Pros of Online Insurance Marketplaces

The benefits of online health insurance marketplaces are many, and it’s one of the best ways to compare different types of health insurance for your entire family. We wanted to highlight those benefits below. Check this out: 

  • Speed. If you don’t need to talk to a person, you can go online, shop for health insurance for your entire family, and get coverage you can afford.
  • Lower cost. As the internet lowers costs for health insurance companies, they pass those savings down the line to you and your family.
  • Variety. There are health care plans for just about everyone. It’s just a matter of finding something that meets your needs. 

The benefits of online health insurance shopping drive plenty of people to look online instead of reaching out directly to a health insurance agent. Some of the sites do have sales professionals who can help you through the process, so you don’t have to forego working with another human completely. 

Cons of Online Insurance Marketplaces

If we’re going to talk about the benefits of these marketplaces, we certainly also need to cover the downsides. Here are some of the cons to online health insurance marketplaces:

  • Requires some ongoing knowledge. Since you aren’t talking to a human, you’re basically at the mercy of going through each health insurance plan on your own. If you’re comfortable with that, that’s wonderful. Otherwise, you may want to still reach out to someone.
  • Not equal across the board. Not all health insurance plans offer essential coverage, which means you’ll have to double-check each plan to make sure.
  • Delays. Depending on when you get your health insurance, you may have to wait until the first of the month for active coverage.

Are these issues the same across the board? Not at all. Health insurance is very plan-specific. Make sure you take the time to do some reading on each plan, so you know what you’re signing up for, as well as when you’ll have active coverage for yourself and your family. 

Great Online Insurance Marketplaces We Liked

Here are a few examples of online health insurance marketplaces with a wide variety of plans, good information on their website, and straightforward navigation. 

Bright HealthCare

If you’re looking for an exclusive provider organization, check out Bright Healthcare. Not only do they offer a strong focus on personalized care through technology, but they also offer lower costs by pushing care through their network only. 

Bright offers health plans in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. 

The plans include essential coverage, including preventative care, surgeries and hospitalizations, mental health, physical therapy, prescriptions, emergency services and lab work, and a wide range of other services. 

The company offers multiple plans that strike a balance between monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. 

Molina HealthCare

What makes Molina so interesting is that they are blunt about their focus on providing health insurance for low to moderate-income families. Low premiums are so important for today’s budget-conscious families. You can’t use health insurance if you can’t afford the premiums. 

Molina’s managed care program is available in quite a few states, including California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

There is also a strong focus on participating in Medicaid programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD), Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicaid Expansion.  

HarvardPilgrim HealthCare

We wanted to highlight HarvardPilgrim HealthCare for a few reasons. One, they are a great example of a regional healthcare system. Indeed, HarvardPilgrim focuses on the New England states to provide a comprehensive health care package, along with some great wellness programs. Their focus is on mental healthcare (including rehab services) as well as the usual HMO-based healthcare plans. 

One area where HarvardPilgrim stands out is its ability to offer direct nurse care managers who are available to answer questions. This can save money instead of going to the doctor for minor issues. Sometimes you just need additional reassurance from a medical professional, and nurses can fill that need just fine.

Online Marketplaces Help You Research the Best Plans

Health insurance is a tool that protects you and your family from the unknown and covers those routine parts of life we don’t think about. For example, if you’re planning to add to your family in the near future, having active health insurance is a very good idea. 

The cost of maternity care is quite high without insurance, so think of it as a hedge against rising costs. Senior care is another area that is incredibly important for quality health insurance: you don’t want to overlook your elderly family members.

If your employer doesn’t have a great health insurance plan, or you’re currently uninsured, it’s time to take it upon yourself to research the best plans.