Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers and group health plans will provide the 180 million Americans who have private insurance with clear, consistent and comparable information about their health plan benefits and coverage. Specifically, the regulations will ensure consumers have access to two forms that will help them understand and evaluate their health insurance choices. The forms include:
You can access the forms discussed here in the Other Resources section.
The package of materials posted also includes an example of a completed summary of benefits and coverage, uniform glossary, as well as specific technical information for simulating coverage examples for two benefits scenarios: having a baby and managing type 2 diabetes.
Under the law, insurance companies and group health plans will provide consumers with a concise document detailing, in plain language, simple and consistent information about health plan benefits and coverage. This summary of benefits and coverage document will help consumers better understand the coverage they have and, for the first time, allow them to easily compare different coverage options. It will summarize the key features of the plan or coverage, such as the covered benefits, cost-sharing provisions, and coverage limitations and exceptions. People will receive the summary when shopping for coverage, enrolling in coverage, at each new plan year, and within seven business days of requesting a copy from their health insurance issuer or group health plan.
This summary of benefits and coverage will include a new, standardized health plan comparison tool for consumers called “coverage examples,” much like the Nutrition Facts label required for packaged foods. The coverage examples would illustrate how a health insurance policy or plan would cover care for common benefits scenarios. Using clear standards and guidelines provided by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), plans and issuers will simulate claims processing for each scenario so consumers can see an illustration of the coverage they get for their premium dollar under a plan. The examples will help consumers see how valuable the health plan will be at times when they may need the coverage.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, consumers will also have a new resource to help them understand some of the most common but confusing jargon used in health insurance. Insurance companies and group health plans will be required to make available upon request a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage such as “deductible” and “co-payment”. To help ensure the document is easily accessible for consumers, the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Labor will also post the glossary on the new health care reform website, www.HealthCare.gov - Opens in a new window and www.dol.gov/ebsa/healthreform - Opens in a new window.