Wouldn’t it be great if overnight, understanding health insurance magically became easier?
That was the aim September 23, 2012, but whether it actually happened is still in question.
On the 23rd, a new benefit from Health Reform kicked in, aimed at making it easier for consumers to understand insurance and compare plans.
It’s called the Uniform Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). Right now, health plans already send you long, complicated SBCs. But the problem is, every one is different (ever tried to compare two of these?).
But now, every plan will be required to present their information in a standardized way, using the same definitions, so you can compare apples to apples.
Think of nutrition labeling—we can see instantly exactly how much more sodium is in one bag of chips versus another. That’s the goal behind the Uniform SBCs. And the “labels” actually don’t look that different from what’s on your food…
Even better, the new document also include “coverage examples,” or a theoretical breakdown of costs for some common medical conditions. See example SBCs here.
It’s a step forward, but here at Simplee, we know it’s not enough to make shopping for health insurance as easy as shopping for sweet potato chips. For example, it’s still difficult to compare 70% and 80% co-insurance when you don’t know the full cost of a service.
Basically, the new SBC will make is easier for consumers to choose between health plans, but after that, it’s still a challenge to understand claims and bills once you start using the plan.
Everyone with a private health plan will see this benefit. Look for it when you receive your plan documents each year or on your health plan’s website.