New Tools for Consumers – More Transparency in the Insurance Market
New on www.HealthCare.gov: Pricing and Benefits Information for Consumers
Consumers just got an important new tool in their search for high quality, low cost health insurance – more information about insurance prices and options that will help them not only find the best insurance plan for themselves and their families, but also will help them negotiate better prices and better deals with their insurance companies.
As of October 1, www.HealthCare.gov, the new consumer health care and insurance finder website created under the Affordable Care Act, is now providing important new pricing and benefits information for private insurance plans offered to individuals and families – giving consumers the power to compare cost estimates and the benefit offered by different plans head-to-head.
These new data, much of which have never been presented to the public before, represent a major step forward for insurance market transparency and will help lead to a new market where consumers have a much better understanding of their choices, a market that is more competitive, and a market that becomes more responsive to what consumers need.
All of this new private health insurance information is presented by www.HealthCare.gov in a consumer-oriented, easy-to-understand format that draws upon consumer research into how best to present insurance information to consumers. The site also delivers important cautions about how the private insurance market works today – information that is helpful for consumers to consider when they are exploring their insurance options – and describes how the Affordable Care Act will continue to improve access to and the value of health plans as this new law is implemented.
What is new as of October 1
For too long, consumers have lacked reliable information about coverage choices and been confounded by fine print and hidden limits in their coverage, just when they needed it most. Starting October 1, this is changing – consumers can now use www.HealthCare.gov to compare important details about the private plans offered to individuals and families, such as:
- Monthly premium estimates – generated based on a consumer's age, gender, family size, tobacco use, and location
- Percentage of people who pay more than the starting premium estimate based on health status – information that has never previously been publicly available
- Percentage of people denied coverage – information that has never previously been publicly available
- Major categories of services covered
- Consumer's share of the cost of these services, including annual deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums
Information on more than 4,400 plans and growing
As of October 1, www.HealthCare.gov is providing this information for over 4,400 plans offered by over 225 insurers for individuals and families in the private insurance marketplace – plans across all 50 states and Washington, DC. This number represents a large number of the plans currently available to consumers and will grow in the coming weeks and months as the Department of Health and Human Services works with insurance providers to bring more plans on line.
Information you can count on
In order to ensure that www.HealthCare.gov provides information to consumers that is as reliable and useful as possible, we asked insurers to go through a rigorous process to qualify for display on the site – including providing detailed pricing and benefit information, submitting unprecedented data on application denials and surcharged quotes, and having their CEO or CFO certify the accuracy of submitted information. We will be updating www.HealthCare.gov’s insurance plan inventory monthly, starting in November, and insurers that could not meet the deadlines for October 1 will be able to submit data again for display on the site in just a few weeks. We are pleased that insurers are engaging in this process, and are working with them to get the best and most data we can on www.HealthCare.gov for the benefit of consumers.
Other important updates to HealthCare.gov
Other important October 1 enhancements to www.HealthCare.gov include expanded information about the Medicaid program and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) such as:
- Information about cost sharing for services covered by CHIP
- Information about special Medicaid/CHIP programs and services operated under section 1115(a) demonstrations in each state
- Information for people eligible for Medicaid and CHIP who live in one of the U.S. territories
All of these enhancements collectively represent a significant boost to the already unprecedented inventory of public and private coverage options made available by www.HealthCare.gov – and putting more power in the hands of consumers.
Coming soon – More information for small business owners
Future enhancements to www.HealthCare.gov in 2011 will include expanded benefits information and monthly premium estimates for small businesses that seek to purchase health insurance for their employees. We will work with the small business community, insurers, and other stakeholders to design these new important features, ensuring we provide the most meaningful information possible.
In the meantime, www.HealthCare.gov will continue to display small business health insurance information as it has since July 1 – enabling small businesses across the country to see, for the first time, the insurance products available to them, by zip code. This information will continue to be updated monthly.
Posted: October 1, 2010