A Simpler Healthcare.gov Form is Good. Improving Transparency Would Be Better.

Washington, DC (October 9, 2014) – The National Health Council (NHC) released the following statement from Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Marc Boutin in response to the October 8 announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the 2015 exchange enrollment website.

We applaud the federal government for making it easier for patients to enroll in health insurance plans through Healthcare.gov. The shorter, simpler application is welcomed, but greater transparency tools are still needed to ensure patients have all the information they need to easily compare plans.

Whether buying a car, shopping for clothes, or picking health insurance to cover your medical and drug needs, a wise consumer is going to comparison shop. In some instances, the difference in out-of-pocket costs could be as high as 600%, depending on the type of insurance plan. If your provider is not in-network, the plan may not cover any of the costs. 

Patients want clear, comprehensive, uniform, and transparent information about the health insurance options available to them in order to select the right plan that meets their unique needs. People need information about which drugs are covered, which doctors are in-network, and how much they will spend out of their own pocket to access health care.

Anything less than complete transparency forces people to make decisions they may regret or to simply throw up their hands in frustration, not enroll at all, and face a costly penalty.

The patient advocacy community urges the federal government to be a role model for state exchanges - give patients the tools they need to pick the right health insurance plan. 

The National Health Council, the united voice for people with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers, is currently conducting patient focus groups and a nationwide survey of people who purchased a health insurance plan through the exchanges. Early results show that easy-to-use network provider information and drug formularies – in addition to cost – are necessary pieces of information that people want and say they need before selecting a plan. 

The NHC has created a website - www.PuttingPatientsFirst.net - where people can estimate their number of doctor visits, specialist visits, hospital stays, and specific medication usage and learn how their out-of-pocket health costs will vary by the different metal plans in their state. 

Nancy Hughes
Cell: 703-608-9709