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Health insurers begin to provide user-friendly plan guides

Reuters, September 25, 2012

The Obama administration on Monday began requiring health insurers to provide user-friendly guides to patients that explain their benefits, aiming to make buying insurance nearly as easy as scanning packages of food for nutrition facts. Under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, employers and insurers must provide a summary of benefits and coverage in a clearly worded, standardized format that allows the private insurance market's 163 million beneficiaries to make side-by-side comparisons of plan offerings. The benefit guides will also factor into the creation of new state-based health insurance markets due to begin offering subsidized, private coverage to moderate-income consumers in January 2014.