Christine Monahan , Sarah J. Dash, Kevin Lucia, Sabrina Corlette
The new health insurance marketplaces aim to improve consumers’ purchasing experiences by setting uniform coverage levels for health plans and giving them tools to explore their options. Marketplace administrators may choose to limit the number and type of plans offered to further simplify consumer decision-making. This issue brief examines the policies set by some state-based marketplaces to simplify plan choices: adopting a meaningful difference standard, limiting the number of plans or benefit designs insurers may offer, or requiring standardized benefit designs. Eleven states and the District of Columbia took one or more of these actions for 2014, though their policies vary in terms of their prescriptiveness. Tracking the effects of these different approaches will enhance understanding of how best to enable consumers to make optimal health insurance purchasing decisions and set the stage for future refinements.