HHS Issues New Rules Requiring Insurers to use Plain Language to Help Consumers Compare Insurance Plans – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

Have you ever had to shop for insurance on your own and
faced a bewildering array of options? With insurance companies peppering their
plan descriptions with technical language and legalese, so you’re not quite
sure what’s really covered? Or even worse, have you ever thought you were
buying a good policy only to find out later you’ve been paying premiums for
coverage that’s not there when you need it? This happens to countless Americans
every day, but, thanks to new rules issued yesterday by the Obama Administration,
should soon become a thing of the past. For the first time, all health plans –
both individual market plans and employer-based plans – will have to give all
consumers short, easy-to-understand summaries of the benefits and cost-sharing
under their plan, as well as any limitations or exclusions under the plan.

Starting in September, Americans will no longer have to
plough through hundreds of pages of dense, 10-point font text to understand
what’s really covered by their policy. The information they need will be
contained in a 4 page “summary of benefits and coverage,” provided by the plan
before they’re enrolled. People will be able to easily make comparisons among
health plan options and make the choice that’s right for themselves and their
family. It’s no wonder that a recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll
found this to be the most popular provision of the ACA, viewed favorably by 84
percent of respondents. For more detail on this new rule, please read the Health Affairs blog entry co-authored with my Georgetown colleague, Mila

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