Making Health Insurance Cost-Sharing Clear to Consumers: Challenges in Implementing Health Reform's Insurance Disclosure Requirements

February 3, 2011 | Volume 2

Authors: Lynn Quincy, M.A.
Contact: Lynn Quincy, M.A., Senior Health Policy Analyst, Consumers Union, LQuincy@consumer.org
Editor: Deborah Lorber

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Overview

The Affordable Care Act calls for a new health insurance disclosure form, called the Summary of Benefits and Coverage, which uses a fixed layout and standard terms and definitions to allow consumers to compare health insurance plans and understand terms of coverage. This brief reports on findings from a Consumers Union study that examined consumers' initial reactions to the form. Testing revealed that consumers were able to use the forms to make hypothetical choices among health plans. However, the study also found deep-seated confusion and lack of confidence with respect to health plan cost-sharing. These findings have significant implications for any venue providing comparative displays of health insurance information, like the future state exchanges, and for policies that rely on the ability of consumers to make informed health insurance purchasing decisions, such as "consumer-driven health care" policies.

The Consumers Union study was cofunded by The Commonwealth Fund and the California HealthCare Foundation.

Citation

L. Quincy, Making Health Insurance Cost-Sharing Clear to Consumers: Challenges in Implementing Health Reform’s Insurance Disclosure Requirements, The Commonwealth Fund, February 2011.