Consumers and employers should find it easier to compare and understand health insurance plans when a new health care reform provision goes into effect, say federal officials.
Starting Sept. 23, health plans must provide two standardized documents at enrollment and renewal -- a summary of benefits and coverage and a uniform glossary defining health insurance terms.
The materials must use plain language, and the summary must spell out what the plan covers, what it excludes and how much enrollees pay out of pocket for care.
The summary of benefits was patterned after the nutrition facts label for packaged foods. Besides providing answers for a set of standard questions about coverage, the summary also includes examples of how much the plan would pay and how much the insured person would pay for certain medical events, such as having a baby or controlling Type 2 diabetes.
The new rules will make it easier for consumers and employers to compare plans and know precisely what they're purchasing, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. An explanation of the provision is available at Healthcare.gov, the federal government's health care reform website.