Imagine this: It’s time to choose a health plan. You get a clear 4 page summary of costs from each plan. Each identical summary lays out the costs and benefits in a standardized format so you can compare across the plans. You also get two additional pages that list what the plan will pay and what you will pay for three real life possibilities: having a baby, treating breast cancer, managing diabetes. Oh and all of this is written in plain language and laid out in a way that has been tested with consumers.
Do you think that this might be easier than the piles of incomprehensible information health plans throw at you now?
We do too, but now this important aspect of the Affordable Care Act is in jeopardy. Insurance companies have been lobbying the White House that this requirement is just too hard to do and too expensive. They want to delay it for 18 months; they don’t want to do this for large employers; and they want to include information only about having a baby. They estimate that it will cost them $382 million dollars to get this ready for the September open enrollment period. They omit to say that two of the 1300 health plans made over $1.6 billion in profits during the last 3 months of 2011.
The cash is there, but the spirit may not be willing. Why? Maybe, just maybe it is because this requirement would give you the information you need BEFORE you choose a health plan. It means that you would have fewer surprises about what treatments would costs. Not everyone will have babies, cancer, or diabetes. But these three events give us an idea of the costs for something common, catastrophic, and chronic.
What can you do? Write the White House now. Here’s the link. http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments
Tell the President that you want him to approve the coverage facts label, to include all three examples, and to have health plans implement it by September 2012. Tell the President that this is a change we can believe in.