Feds Release Final Rules on Health Plan Language
According to the final rule, these "improvements will result in a more efficient, competitive market...(and will reduce) the time (consumers) spend searching for and compiling health plan and coverage information.
The federal agencies that wrote the rule, including the Internal Revenue Service, HHS and the Department of Labor, estimated the cost of producing these templates will be $73 million, but in fact will be lower in part because they allow greater flexibility for electronic disclosure.
In a statement, Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said the final regulation makes important improvements, but said the industry needs more time to implement the change "to avoid imposing costs that outweigh benefits to consumers."
"The final rule requires an almost complete overhaul and redesign of how information must be provided to consumers," Ignagni said. "The short time frame in which to implement this new requirement creates significant administrative challenges that will increase costs and result in duplication because many plans are already developing materials for employers whose policies take effect October 1, 2012."
She also took issue with the rule's requirement that separate documents be available for each potential family size and for every possible benefit design option, including different cost-sharing levels, prescription drug formularies, and network designs.
"Requiring a separate document for each coverage scenario will significantly increase administrative costs and potentially result in consumers having to sort through scores of pages of coverage information,” she said.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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