The National Health Council has created a web-based tool that allows patients figure out which "Obamacare" plans would be most cost effective for them. Unlike the health exchange websites provided by the likes of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina – which basically just look at the cost variables of premiums, deductibles and coinsurance – the "Putting Patients First" calculator allows people to input information like the number of doctor visits they anticipate having that year, hospitilizations or surgeries they might have and prescriptions they are taking and then gives them guidance on which plans might make the most sense. In other words they don't just take into account the up front costs of plans, but factor in other criteria that might make higher premium plans more sensible.
This is definitely helpful for anyone who's having to shop for his own health insurance. It's tempting to go for the lowest premium plan because it costs the least up front, but if someone has preexisting conditions that causes them to visit the doctor regularly, or take medications on an ongoing basis, then the higher premium plans might make more sense in the long run. The tool provided by NHC is exactly the kind of thing we need so that folks an at least make the best-informed decision possible. As for making our healthcare system more efficient and affordable, well that's a much bigger problem that no web tool will fix.