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Rate Your Health Insurance

January 1, 2010

 

MedSave.com announced plans to launch a consumer rating service for health insurance in the late summer of 2007. Despite the consumer-driven evolvement of public ratings of most other products and services, this type of "Web 2.0" communication has not significantly affected the health insurance industry. Insurance companies and government regulators alike are concerned about the opportunities for abuse in unmoderated online public forums. MedSave.com hopes to change that by utilizing a moderated public survey format that keeps pace with the fast-changing health insurance market. MedSave.com serves a younger population including college students and those just starting their career. This age group of consumers is far more likely to rely on Web-based peer reviews for all types of financial decisions and support. As health insurance moved toward consumer-driven health plans over the past several years, MedSave.com found a niche in short term medical insurance and supplemental insurance that is issued online and delivered to policyholders in electronic format, rather than on paper by postal mail.

There are still few commercial sources of consumer satisfaction reports for health insurance. MedSave.com's founder published the results of an informal survey for several years prior to 2004 but the results were hampered by inconsistent data collection methods and a skewed sampling based on the opinions of consumers who used the free OnlineAdviser telephone service from 1999 to 2003.

MedSave.com recently came under management by an informal group of advisers operating as "Health Plan Systems" to manage operations after the founder suffered a disabling injury. Rather than see the Web site close, the advisers offered to lend a hand to the day-to-day operations and free user support. Some financial advisers have sent their clients who need health insurance to MedSave.com for more than a decade and have come to appreciate the valuable free service. Most financial professionals do not handle low cost and short term medical insurance so they valued the opportunity to get reliable professional responses to their clients' health insurance questions.

MedSave.com was founded in 1997 by accountant Tony Novak to provide a reputable source of high quality but inexpensive medical insurance. The site initially served only  his clients but grew to serve individuals worldwide. Despite its decade of growth, the business does not generate substantial revenue since many of the services are provided free of charge. Revenues are less than one dollar per user so for-profit insurance companies are not be interested in this market niche. Yet millions of Americans continue to demand reliable low cost health insurance. Corporate benefit officers use this service for newly hired, part-time and out-placed workers. Insurance agents, accountants and financial advisers occasionally have a request for this type of health insurance from their clients and have endorsed MedSave.com as a reputable online provider.

Health Plan Systems officially took over operation of MedSave on July 1, 2007 and hopes to bring the Web site to a new level of usefulness and popularity. The new advisers plan to provide updated educational material and support to financial advisers and corporate employee benefits personnel. The initial survey screen is now posted online and is intended simply to collect a list of names of the health plans that may be rated by MedSave.com users. The initial health plan list will be complied from input from financial advisers and current MedSave.com users. MedSave.com focuses on low cost, high value type insurance, so the initial list may not be representative of other types of other health insurance plans. Consumer ratings and comments for about ten of the most popular health plans will be published before Labor Day.

 



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