Sunday, December 17, 2017

Feds require consumer-friendly health plan briefs

WASHINGTON — Don't have the slightest clue what your health insurance covers?

The Obama administration says that's going to change. Officials announced Thursday that starting later this year private health plans will have to provide consumers with a user-friendly summary of what's covered, along with key cost details such as copays and deductibles.

Just six pages long. No fine print. Because the summaries will use a single standard format, it will allow "apples to apples" comparisons among health plans that aren't possible now. That will help working spouses trying to pick between employer plans, as well as people who buy coverage directly from an insurance company.

Insurers and business groups were unhappy, calling it another costly new regulation under the overhaul. Consumer groups said the new summaries won't be perfect, but called them a strong start. One shortcoming is that the summaries won't include premiums.

Employees should start seeing them during open enrollment season this fall.

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