Prescription for Change A new direction for healthcare...

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

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Press Releases

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Blog Posts

  • It’s about time! Easier Health Insurance Summaries

    Another piece of the health reform law has fallen into place – new uniform, easy-to-use health insurance summaries that will help keep you from pulling your hair out over trying to understand your insurance policy. Available to over 170 million consumers with private health insurance coverage, this is the most far reaching reform to date. Continue Reading

  • HHS preserves September start date for new easy-to-read insurance summaries

    Late last week, the Departments of Health & Human Services (HHS), Labor and Treasury released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC), the new, consumer friendly health insurance summary established by the Affordable Care Act. Consumers will see the SBC for the first time when they shop for Continue Reading

  • New numbers are in: Health reform removed lifetime dollar limits on coverage for 105 million

    In two weeks the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to decide if the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. There’s no doubt the law has been controversial, and claims about “Obamacare” are flying again. In the two years since its enactment, though, evidence about the law’s actual effects has been building. As we’ve previously written, hundreds of Continue Reading

  • Health reform law expands preventive care coverage for tens of millions in 2011

    While some features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) don’t go into effect until 2014, other provisions of the 2010 law are already well-established. That means that despite our ongoing battles to hold insurance companies accountable, we’re beginning to see evidence of many of the health law’s benefits. For example, in September we reported that the Continue Reading

  • Affordable Care Act is increasing coverage, study confirms

    In September, we reported on a Census survey showing that the Affordable Care Act expanded health care access to over 500 thousand young adults in 2010 alone. Although some were skeptical of the data, it strongly suggested the increased coverage was the result of a provision requiring that insurers allow young adults to stay covered by their Continue Reading

  • New disclosure requirement is wildly popular, not widely known

    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 Continue Reading

  • Census report shows Affordable Care Act is working

    A new report released by the Census Bureau showed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is expanding health care coverage to more than 500,000 young adults in 2010, a number expected to continue rising. The full extent of the ACA’s coverage-expansion provisions, such as increasing Medicaid eligibility and offering subsidies and competitive insurance markets to Continue Reading

  • Out-of-pocket caps will help put the brakes on higher health plan costs

    A new study shows that average monthly premiums for people who purchase health insurance on their own range from a low of $136 per month in Alabama to a high of $437 per month in Massachusetts.  But, as the study notes, these monthly premium figures don’t tell the whole story.  Out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and Continue Reading

  • Report: Coverage will expand dramatically; costs will not

    One of the most common questions surrounding the new health reform law was whether it could expand health insurance coverage without breaking the bank. Fortunately, a new report from actuaries in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that it can. In fact, as economist and lead author Sean P. Keehan noted in Continue Reading

  • Rates drop for federal high risk pool

    Last summer we told you about the new federally funded “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan” or PCIP for short. We had high hopes for this new option for people with previous health conditions but learned early on that the program needs tweaking. Consumers wrote back to us describing how even though the cost for this new Continue Reading

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News Articles

  • Here is what the new health insurance labels will look like
    Source: The Consumerist (Thursday February 9, 2012)

    “The new Summary of Benefits provides consumers with important insurance information in a standardized way for the first time,” said Lynn Quincy, senior policy analyst for Consumers union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “This rule is a big step in helping consumers better understand and evaluate their insurance options.”

  • Consumer groups fear White House may water down rule on user-friendly health plan summaries
    Source: Washington Post (Thursday January 26, 2012)

    One of the most popular provisions of the health care reform law — consumer-friendly summaries of what your insurance plan covers — suddenly seems to be at risk.

  • ‘Almost heaven’ meets ‘paradise’ — Virgin Islands and West Virginia discuss an exchange
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Monday January 9, 2012)

    From economy to climate, they are as different as any two places in the United States. But that hasn’t stopped them from discussing whether to work together to form a health insurance exchange under the federal health care law, say officials in West Virginia and the Virgin Islands.

  • Collaborative efforts can save money and improve care
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Thursday January 5, 2012)

    Physicians and hospitals share cost savings with the employers and insurers, and in some cases share losses if savings targets aren’t met. Medicare has launched a similar program under the 2010 health reform law aimed at developing so-called accountable care organizations.

  • Millions of young adults getting coverage under new healthcare law
    Source: Los Angeles Times (Wednesday December 14, 2011)

    The healthcare law signed by President Obama last year has now helped as many as 2.5 million young adults get health insurance over the last year despite the lagging economy, new data released by the federal government indicates.

  • About 2.5 million young adults gain health insurance under U.S. overhaul
    Source: Bloomberg (Wednesday December 14, 2011)

    About 2.5 million Americans under the age of 26 received medical insurance because of a rule in the health-care overhaul that allowed them to remain on their parents’ plans. The percentage of people ages 19 to 25 with insurance rose to 73 percent from 64 percent between September 2010 and June, according to the Atlanta-based Centers Continue Reading

  • Health law's 'doughnut hole' fix saves recipients $1.5 billion
    Source: USA Today (Tuesday December 6, 2011)

    The health reform law’s changes to Medicare have resulted in more than 2.65 million recipients saving on average $569-per-person on prescriptions, while premiums have remained stable. Another rule change has allowed more than 24 million to receive a free annual physical or other screening exam.

  • American employers are using more insurance plans with high deductibles
    Source: Live Insurance News (Sunday November 27, 2011)

    A new survey has shown that employers in the United States who are struggling to manage the increasing costs of healthcare insurance are broadening the use of plans with high deductibles to help to keep the monthly premiums at a more affordable level, since more of the burden of medical expenses is falling on the Continue Reading

  • States cut mental health budgets as demand increases
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Thursday November 10, 2011)

    More than half the states have cut their mental health budgets since the recession hit home, while the economic slump has pushed up demand for such services, according to a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

  • Low-income state workers begin to gain access to Children’s Health Insurance Program
    Source: The Washington Post (Sunday November 6, 2011)

    At least six states have opened their Children’s Health Insurance Program to the kids of low-income state employees, an option that was prohibited until the passage of the 2010 health-care law.

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