A Standard for Health Insurance Coverage

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<p>Defining a standard for health insurance coverage is central to comprehensive health reform that includes a requirement for individuals to obtain coverage. Many proposed reforms would seek to establish a federal minimum benefit standard—a baseline set of benefits to ensure that consumers are getting adequate financial protection against health care expenses, and to make it easier to compare the cost and quality of insurance policies.</p>
<p>In the issue brief, <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2009/jun/setting-national-minimum-standard-health-benefits-how-do-state">Setting a National Minimum Standard for Health Benefits: How Do State Benefit Mandates Compare with Benefits in Large-Group Plans?</a>, Commonwealth Fund researchers compare existing state benefit mandates with the services and providers covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program’s (FEHBP) Blue Cross and Blue Shield standard benefit package—a level of comprehensive coverage generally available in employer-sponsored health plans.</p>
<p>With few exceptions, benefits in the FEHBP standard option either meet or exceed those that state mandates require, the study finds. This indicates that a broad-based national benefit standard for minimum creditable coverage—one that spans all necessary medical care typical of the benefits provided in large-group plans—would include most existing state benefit mandates. </p>
<p>The authors note that while the national standard should serve as a floor for benefits, states could be permitted to mandate more generous benefits than the national standard, if they elect to do so.</p>