Meeting a July 1 congressional deadline, the Department of Health and Human Services has launched an initial version of, a website to enable consumers across the nation to compare and choose health insurance plans operating in their geographic region.

The site is mandated under the health reform law, called the Accountable Care Act, which was enacted on March 23. To access health plan information, a consumer enters his or her state, characteristics of the household, current medical problems and reason for needing insurance (don't have it, losing employer-offered coverage, etc.). A search for family coverage in western Michigan found 51 plans offered by 17 insurers.

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