George Kalogeropoulos, Michael Wasser and Ning Liang, young entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, developed the website in three days in response to problems with the healthcare.gov website, which has been beset with problems and delays. They created thehealthsherpa.com site as a public service to make it easier to find price comparisons and simple instructions on how to sign up for health insurance directly through an insurer. - Photos: thehealthsherpa.com
George Kalogeropoulos, Michael Wasser and Ning Liang, young entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, developed the website in three days in response to problems with the healthcare.gov website, which has been beset with problems and delays. They created thehealthsherpa.com site as a public service to make it easier to find price comparisons and simple instructions on how to sign up for health insurance directly through an insurer. - Photos: thehealthsherpa.com
Those confused about how to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act now have thehealthsherpa.com - a free tool that quickly calculates the cost of health insurance after a user plugs in their Zip code, age, income and whether or not they are a smoker. Shazam! In less than six seconds the price of health insurance is listed, by price and by company, with income-based discounts applied to plans available in a specific area.

Click one more button and it takes users directly to the website of the insurance company offering the plan at that price.

I opened up thehealthsherpa.com, plugged in a Zip code and an age to see what came up.

I put in a single person, aged 43, non-smoker, living in Knox County, and earning $24,000 a year. The least expensive Bronze bare bones option was $74.22 a month, after the subsidy discount, from Maine Community Health Options. The most expensive was a covers-most-services option at $433.46 a month, after the discount, from Anthem.

The site is all about price comparisons, not details of plans. For that, and to enroll in a plan, the user needs to click through one more step to contact the insurance company offering a specific plan. In Maine, the only two insurers on the exchange are Maine Community Health Options and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Another option for more detailed information on the plans (that now have a price tag, thanks to HealthSherpa) is enroll207.com. Enroll207.com has side-by-side comparisons of different plans.

One hint: printing out the list of prices and plans from Health Sherpa will help when trying to figure out the details of a plan, either online or over the phone.