For Many, Obama's Promise Of Health Care Choice Does Not Ring True

Laura Koran | CNN | October 31, 2013

In her grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reiterated a frequent assertion in the Obamacare sales pitch --- consumers have options when shopping for insurance plans on the health care exchanges. "The 15% of our neighbors and friends who are uninsured have affordable new options in a competitive market," Sebelius said in her testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

But a CNN analysis found that consumer options vary significantly from state to state, and many Americans are discovering that they have very few options. In West Virginia and New Hampshire, for example, residents shopping on the exchanges can only purchase plans from a single company. Contrast that with the state-operated exchange in New York which has 16 participating companies, an average of five per county. Wisconsin, which is on the federal exchange, has 13 participating insurers, although some counties in the state have only one.

So what prices are people finding in states where only one insurer lists on the exchange? In states with many insurers on exchanges, plans vary far more dramatically in price. Some are more expensive but many are significantly cheaper...