When we think of the holiday season, the ideal image is not curling up in front of the fireplace to read through our health insurance plans. In fact, one survey showed that we dread buying insurance more than paying our taxes or going to the gym.
So it may not be a surprise that in a recent poll, the element of the 2010 health reform law that was viewed as most favorable was the requirement that insurance companies provide consumers with easy-to-understand summaries of plan costs and benefits. In fact, 84% viewed this provision as favorable, including 6 in 10 who thought it was “very favorable”.
The Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), as this form is known, would standardize how consumers view health plan information — like premiums and deductibles. It would also include a feature called Coverage Examples that illustrates complicated health plan provisions using hypothetical medical scenarios — much like nutritional labels on packaged food.
But however well-liked, most Americans aren’t aware this requirement is included in the law. As the poll’s sponsor, the Kaiser Family Foundation, notes, “Some of the law’s most popular elements are those which smaller shares of the public recognize as being included.”
Despite its popularity, some companies are working to undermine the SBC requirement. Consumers Union played an integral role in developing this easy-to-read form, and we’ll keep working to make sure it’s included when the health law is fully implemented.
And you can help out! If you bought a plan, only to find out it didn’t have the coverage you thought it did, or had trouble using the plan and ended up owing more than you thought you would, share your story.