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Publications

Consumers Union produces original research, reports and documents on health insurance, health care, and health law. For more information about our original health research, contact healthcare@consumersunion.org.

Rate Review

  • Health Insurance Premium Review Grants: Detailed State by State Summary of Proposed Activities
    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Wednesday December 1, 2010)

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded funds to enhance states’ current processes for reviewing health insurance premium increases. A list of States’ current health insurance rate review practices and a summary of their intended use of these new resources is below.

  • Spotlight on State Efforts to Make Health Insurance More Affordable
    Source: Kaiser Family Foundation (Wednesday December 1, 2010)

    The ACA [new federal health law] does not alter states’ existing regulatory authority over health insurance rates. Such state authority varies dramatically, ranging from states with no authority at all to those that have robust authority to review and approve or disapprove rates before they are implemented. The authors of this issue brief conducted a survey of 50 state rate review statutes, and then did follow up interviews with insurance regulators in a subset of ten states to gain a deeper understanding of how rate regulation works in practice.

  • The Price of Deregulation: How "File and Use" Has Undermined New York State's Ability to Protect Consumers From Excessive Health Insurance Premiums
    Source: New York State Department of Insurance (Tuesday June 9, 2009)

    New York’s Insurance Department examines what happened after the state lost its authority to pre-approve health insurer’s premium rate increases and shows why prior approval is an important tool in controlling rates.

Better Consumer Information

  • BRIEF: Making Health Insurance Choices Understandable for Consumers – Meeting Synopsis (February 4, 2011)

    Consumers Union held a public forum to discuss the importance of making health insurance choices understandable for consumers. The session highlighted specific sources of confusion and actionable solutions.

  • BRIEF: What will an “Actuarial Value” Standard Mean for Consumers?

    “Actuarial value” is an estimate of the overall financial protection provided by a health plan. While actuarial value is a concept widely used by the insurance industry, it is not familiar to most consumers. This brief explains the concept of actuarial value and how the 2010 health reform law makes actuarial value to standardize the financial protection offered by health plans starting in 2014.

  • BRIEF: Mini-med Health Plans: Don’t Call It Insurance

    Mini-med health plans have garnered attention recently because their benefit levels don’t conform to new requirements being phased-in that all health plans provide coverage up to certain levels.

  • New study finds confusion on plan cost-sharing options

    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) calls for health insurers to disclose the benefits and costs of their health plan offerings in a standard way so families can compare options and make good choices. Consumers Union studied the early prototypes for this Summary of Coverage.

  • The Affordable Care Act: The First Year

    Discover What the New Law Means for You and Your Family

  • What is government-run health care — and what isn’t

    “Government-run health care” is an expression that has been used to inflame rather than inform. Discover what health programs are run by the government, and how they provide popular health care to millions of Americans

  • Apples-to-Apples: Simplifying health insurance choices

    As lawmakers develop health reform, they have the opportunity to fix the way we shop for insurance with consumer-friendly rules and ratings.

  • REPORT: Simplifying Health Insurance Choices

    Americans find it all but impossible to compare health insurance policies on an “apples-to-apples” basis because the policies are written in legalese and the terms of coverage are so varied. This brief recommends new, consumer-friendly rules for the health insurance marketplace. These rules require clear and consistent definitions of insurance terms, standardized health plan provisions, new health plan disclosure forms, unbiased enrollment assistance and rigorous enforcement at the state and national levels.

  • REPORT: Building Mississippi's health insurance exchange
    Source: Center for Mississippi Health Policy (Sunday January 15, 2012)

    Mississippi is moving forward to establish a state-based Health Insurance Exchange by the HHS deadline of January 1, 2014. The Mississippi Insurance Department has applied for and received federal grants to fund the development of the state’s Exchange… Approximately 275,000 Mississippians are anticipated to enroll in coverage through an Exchange once the ACA is fully implemented in 2014. Out of those expected to utilize Mississippi’s Exchange, approximately 229,000 should be eligible for premium subsidies, which will be administered by the federal government in the form of tax credits.

  • Timeline of Health Reform Implementation

    The Kaiser Family Foundation provides this timeline that explains provisions of the Affordable Care Act and when they go into effect.

Better Insurance Value

  • BRIEF: Mini-med Health Plans: Don’t Call It Insurance

    Mini-med health plans have garnered attention recently because their benefit levels don’t conform to new requirements being phased-in that all health plans provide coverage up to certain levels.

  • New Health Reform Benefits Going Into Effect On January 1

    As the new year begins, insurance companies will have to abide by new requirements on how premium dollars are spent, Medicare enrollees will get free preventive care and access to drug discounts, community health centers will receive more funding, and all hospitals will begin reporting certain patient infection rates.

  • The Affordable Care Act: The First Year

    Discover What the New Law Means for You and Your Family

  • A Consumer Guide to Handling Disputes with Your Employer or Private Health Plan

    Most people get their health care through some form of managed care plan – a health maintenance organization, preferred provider organization, or point-of-service option. Most of the time, people receive the care they need, but the potential exists for disagreements over the services that will be provided or paid for by health plans.