Proposed New Health Insurance Forms Seek To Make Sense Of It All

Much about the health insurance business is deliberately byzantine, intended to discourage customers from understanding all the fine details of their policies. But today the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new way of labeling insurance policies that would spell out the costs and benefits of health plans in easy-to-understand language.

“Today, many consumers don’t have easy access to information in plain English to help them understand the differences in the coverage and benefits provided by different health plans,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Under the proposed regulations, consumers have access to two forms that will help them understand and evaluate their health insurance choices, including:

*An easy to understand Summary of Benefits and Coverage; and
*A uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage, such as “deductible” and “co-pay.”

The forms must be made available to enrollees and potential customers upon request before they buy coverage.

“By making the terms of health insurance plans easier to understand, consumers are less likely to find themselves in health plans that don’t meet their needs,” said Lynn Quincy, senior health policy analyst for Consumers Union. She says she’s “heard too many stories of consumers that purchased a health insurance plan that they didn’t understand. Creating this health insurance disclosure will help reduce that confusion much in the same way that recent disclosures for mortgage terms or credit cards have helped to better inform consumers.”

To see a PDF of the proposed labels, click here.

Providing Clear and Consistent Information to Consumers about Their Health Insurance Coverage [HealthCare.gov]