What is

By: Molly Edmonds

Shopping for health care insurance will never be quite this easy, but looking at your options may be.
Shopping for health care insurance will never be quite this easy, but looking at your options may be.

When you make a large purchase, such as a car, you'd probably like to know that you're getting the best deal for your money. There are plenty of Web sites that can help you in this quest, and you can compare and contrast different makes, models, features and price points until you find the perfect car for your situation.

On July 1, 2010, the U.S. government unveiled This new Web site is designed to offer the same sort of information and transparency about the health insurance market so that consumers can be sure they're getting the best value. The creation of the Web site was a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in March 2010, and the site is designed to provide comprehensive, easy-to-understand information on health insurance options.

Advertisement presents extensive information on how the new health care reform legislation affects consumers, but it's served up in a very personalized way. Whether you're a pregnant woman in Ohio or a recent college graduate in Nevada, you can get information about how the law impacts your particular situation. For example, small business owners could visit a page that explains how the insurance marketplace is changing for them in the near future, as well as in 2014, when the final pieces of the legislation will be put into place.

The Web site also includes information on preventive care and how to compare the quality of care patients receive at local facilities, but its most notable feature is the insurance finder. For the first time ever, private plans and public plans have been cataloged together so that consumers can comparison-shop. This tool is designed to give consumers control in an area that has been so baffling for so many years. Rather than flipping through hundreds of pages of fine print or spending hours on the phone, consumers can now easily see the plans that are available to someone in their situation. On the next page, we'll take a closer look at how this feature works.