My wife and I are self employed and buy our own coverage for our family of four. The health insurance premiums, by far, represent our largest yearly expense ($13,600), and that’s with additional $2,500 deductibles for each family member. We are all “healthy,” but reserve visiting the doctor unless there is an unavoidable and urgent Continue Reading
Better Consumer Information
Navigating the purchase and use of a health insurance policy could be a lot easier. What are your basic rights, and how should you decide between your available options? Read about changes and improvements you can expect in the coming years.
Consumers Union Documents
- REPORT: Early Consumer Testing of the Coverage Facts Label: A New Way of Comparing Health Insurance (August 2011)
The Coverage Facts Labels is a way for Americans to better understand the coverage offered by health plans. Testing by CU finds that consumers are greatly helped by the new disclosure.
- 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
- Web portal to compare health insurance options
CU recommends the Health and Human Services conduct consumer testing of web portal.
- CU urges temporary high risk health insurance pool program
Letter to Secretary Sebelius outlines four conditions that should be met by any pool or plan that participates
- What will you get under health reform?
Find out what benefits you’ll get, when they’ll be available and how the key provisions will work
- How the system would work
Here are the most critical facts about how reform would affect you and your family.
- HealthTaxCreditTool.org explains new financial help available to pay for health insurance costs
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Consumer Reports have created a free, easy-to-use tool that helps people learn how to lower the cost of health insurance plans offered through the new state marketplaces
- Consumer Reports poll finds over one third of consumers more confused on health law since start of open enrollment
Consumer Reports HealthLawHelper.org cuts through opinions to provide consumers with the unbiased facts
- White House initiative to prevent and detect fraud in health insurance marketplaces
Every new program presents an opportunity for scammers to try to take unfair advantage of consumers and these health insurance marketplaces are no different
- Covered California delivers power to compare affordable health choices to consumers
Covered California, the new statewide Marketplace for private health insurance, recently announced proposed rates it negotiated on behalf of Californians.
- Covered California announces health plans, proposed rates
Health insurance exchange offers plans eligible for subsidies, enables Californians to make smart choices
- Consumers Union Unveils New Health Insurance Poll Results in Senate Hearing
The results show the SBC form makes a difference in the consumer health insurance shopping experience
- Simpler Shopping for Health Insurance with New “Facts Label”
Consumers Union Asks for Feedback on New Insurance Disclosure Form
- Consumers Union Marks Two Year Anniversary of Healthcare Reform with New Consumer Guide
The new free guide offers consumers information to get the most out of their healthcare options
- New Consumers Union Report Launches Project to Measure Health Insurance Literacy, Calls for Partners
Testing shows consumers dread buying health insurance largely because they don’t understand it
- Final Health Insurance Label Is a Good Tool for Consumers
This rule is a big step in helping consumers better understand and evaluate their insurance options
- 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.
- Your health care now has a username and password
By Dena Mendelsohn This is the first in a series of blogs on health information technology. Can you schedule an appointment with your doctor online? Or log on and check out your medical history? Maybe you’re in contact with your doctor via email? Or you wear one of those nifty new wristbands that aim to Continue Reading
- Getting signed up: Mia from California
Mia is a self-employed mom from Oakland, California. She and her family had insurance before the Covered California opened for business. But, she says, “We had a terrible plan with a $12,500 deductible. The costs were going up every year – and in the past few years, they’d gone up every 6 months. Meanwhile, our Continue Reading
- Congratulations to Kentucky Equal Justice Center, winner of the 2014 Consumer Reports Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award
Consumers Union was proud to present the 2014 Consumer Reports Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award to the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. Among their many consumer advocacy efforts, KJEC has done significant work to educate Kentucky consumers about their health coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. When Kentucky’s Governor was working to decide whether or not the state Continue Reading
- Share your experience: Managing your health online
This month’s issue of Consumer Reports features an article about how consumers can take advantage of electronic medical records and patient portals to improve their quality of care. Now, we want to hear from you about your experience. Starting this year, doctors and some other healthcare providers will receive financial incentives from the Center for Continue Reading
- Are You Who You Say You Are? Verifying Identity in the Federal Marketplace
Are the standards to confirm your identity to apply for health insurance through the Federal Marketplace too strict? The online Federal Marketplace, HealthCare.gov, has been directing applicants to confirm their identity through a website run by Experian, the largest credit reporting agency. However, at least one consumer reported to us that she attempted to sign Continue Reading
- Consumers should consider options after President’s announcement
Earlier today, President Obama announced that Americans will be able to keep insurance plans—that do not comply with the minimum coverage required by the Affordable Care Act—for another year. This means that consumers who have received cancellation notices from Insurers may be able to keep their insurance plans. In addition, insurers will have to Continue Reading
- Health insurance companies aren’t telling you the whole story
News of “cancellation” notices coming from insurance companies has many consumers worried about their health insurance options, especially because many of the notices offer alternative plans that are very expensive. We encourage you to look at the facts before you worry or make any decisions. First, let’s ask exactly what is happening? Insurance companies are notifying people with individual health Continue Reading
- Add this to your Fall shopping list: New Health Insurance Options!
California was the first state to pass a law creating its own health insurance “marketplace” after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The new marketplace, named “Covered California,” will open its virtual doors for business October 1 — great news for the millions of Californians without affordable health insurance. You Continue Reading
- Technology and Website Design Matter When It Comes to Selecting a Health Plan
Cross-posted from the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute. This post is part of an ongoing series called Tech Tuesday which explores technology issues related to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. View more blogs in the series at http://ccf.georgetown.edu/blog/. Over the past two years, like many of you, I Continue Reading
- Demystifying Health Insurance Shopping for Consumers
Covered California, California’s new marketplace that will transform the way consumers shop for affordable health insurance, announced bold action at a press conference today featuring Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee and Consumer Reports’ President Jim Guest The event announced how Covered California will transform one of a consumer’s most dreaded tasks—shopping for health insurance—into Continue Reading
- ACOs multiply as Medicare announces 27 new ones Source: Kaiser Health News (Tuesday April 10, 2012)
Despite uncertainty over how the Supreme Court will rule on the health law, a key provision intended to help transform the delivery of care is moving ahead. Advocates say “accountable care organizations” can improve care for Medicare beneficiaries and slow rising costs.
- Health Enterprise Zone legislation passes in Maryland Source: Baltimore Sun (Monday April 9, 2012)
A program to improve healthcare in minority areas and reduce health disparities was approved by the Maryland General Assembly over the weekend.
- California health insurance exchange moving ahead Source: San Francisco Chonicle (Thursday April 5, 2012)
California was the first state to set up the reform bill’s core feature, a health benefits exchange – a marketplace for consumers and small businesses to pick and choose among various insurance plans – that is scheduled to open in 2014.
- Proposals laid out for Oregon health overhaul Source: Modern Healthcare (Thursday April 5, 2012)
Groups in every county have said they want to be a new coordinated care organization, or CCO, charged with lowering costs and improving health care for Oregon Medicaid patients.
- Legislation passed to create health exchanges in Maryland Source: Baltimore Sun (Thursday April 5, 2012)
Maryland continued its aggressive implementation of health care change Thursday despite uncertainty surrounding the issue nationally, as the General Assembly passed legislation to create open markets where people will buy insurance.
- Massachusetts primary care physician groups rated on preventive care in new report Source: Boston Globe (Thursday April 5, 2012)
Massachusetts Health Quality Partners released its latest ratings of physician practices on Thursday. The group found that Massachusetts primary care physicians continue to provide high-quality care overall, although notable differences in quality exist.
- The Supreme Court and healthcare: What will the decision mean in Rhode Island? Source: GoLocal Prov (Monday April 2, 2012)
One thing many Rhode Islanders are wondering now is what will happen to the state healthcare Exchange—and the federal subsidies for income-qualifying individuals to purchase through it – if the individual mandate is struck down.
- A single coordinated care organization could emerge in the tri-county area Source: The Lund Report (Wednesday March 21, 2012)
For the past three months, the managed care plans that have been providing healthcare to people on the Oregon Health Plan have been talking about forming a single CCO and intend to file a letter of intent by April 2.
- Feds jump-start health insurance co-ops with loans Source: Kaiser Health News (Tuesday February 21, 2012)
The plans are being started under the health reform law’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. The aim is to increase competition among insurers, potentially reducing premiums and improving health care quality and customer service.
- Study: healthcare costs decrease when low-income uninsured are provided coverage Source: UC Irvine (Thursday February 9, 2012)
Enrollment of uninsured patients in a program with benefits comparable to those offered under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 resulted in significant healthcare cost savings, a new study finds.