Mahoney said one of the challenges that officials will face is educating people on how to use the exchange website.
Most people have a general understanding of the Internet and email. But the general population is not well-versed on insurance jargon, he said.
People who will use the exchange probably either will have insurance through their jobs and are comparing insurance opportunities outside of that coverage, or they're people who have never been insured or are underinsured, Mahoney said.
“Those people are going to be looking at words, like ‘coinsurance, deductible, copay, premium, provider network' for the first time,” Mahoney said. “There's a huge concern in the marketplace that people are going to be uninformed when making their decisions.”
What should people keep in mind when using the exchange?
Mahoney said the insurance buying process will be intimidating at first, but it will grow easier with experience.
“If I said, ‘Hey, you're going to buy your own home — you're going to act as your own mortgage broker,' you would say, ‘I don't know any of that language,'” Mahoney said. “Well, now you're in charge of choosing your own health plan, and whereas before you didn't have any health insurance, and you couldn't worry about it, or you had group insurance, and you just checked a box.”
People will have more responsibility regarding their health insurance coverage, he said. Hopefully people make the best decisions for their dollar, he said.
“The biggest mistake a person can make is making a buying decision based on price alone,” Mahoney said. “It's like buying your first car and saying, ‘This one is $10,000. I'll buy that one.' You've got to compare all the different features.”