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HHS offers online insurance finder for small biz owners

Small business owners can find and compare health insurance plan choices with a new tool provided by the Health and Human Services Department. The web-based health insurance finder tool is designed to enable small employers to research locally available products and promote a more transparent and competitive marketplace for health coverage.

Small businesses do not fare as well as large employers when negotiating healthcare prices and on average spend 18 percent more for the same health insurance coverage, noted HHS in a press release issued Friday announcing the tool. 

The health insurance finder tool brings needed openness to the marketplace, which will help make sure that insurance companies compete for business on the basis of price and quality, said Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, in the press release.

"The new, unprecedented ability to search at this level of detail will bring the marketplace into better balance by giving insurance purchasers the power of information," he said in the release.

With the interactive tool, small business owners can access insurance products in a given zip code, sorted by out-of-pocket limits, average cost per enrollee, or other factors. 

The tool can also supply a summary of cost and coverage for small group products that shows the available deductibles, range of co-pay options, included and excluded benefits, and benefits available for purchase at additional cost. 

Small enterprise owners can filter product selection based on whether the plans are health savings account eligible, have prescription drug, mental health, or maternity coverage, or allow for domestic partner or same sex coverage.

More than 530 insurers have provided information for more than 2,700 coverage plans for the website, HHS said.

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