“By Patricia Anstett, Detroit Free Press
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Feb. 09–Starting Sept. 23, group health insurance policies in America must provide consumers and employers with a simple, easy-to-understand summary of benefits and costs.
The new rules, announced Thursday, aim to eliminate confusing and technical language in policies “the size of a small phone book,” said Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, in announcing the changes Thursday.
She said insurers “can’t bury in fine print” any substandard coverage. The changes will help employers and consumers make apples-to-apples comparisons of their health plan, she said.
For now, the changes only affect group commercial insurance policies, not Medicare. Officials said they could not comment immediately on when Medicare beneficiaries also may have more understandable policies like the ones announced Thursday.
Consumers have to be informed in writing 60 days ahead of any significant changes that will be made in a plan, said Steve Larsen, who heads the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The changes should be help consumers during annual fall open enrollment periods, he said.
Insurers that do not meet the new rules face penalties up to $1,000 for each person enrolled in the plan.”