Thursday, October 08, 2015

La Plus ca Change

Hey Mr Peabody!

Wayback (SWIDT?) in 2006, we blogged about Minnesota Blue Cross/Shield's new, bleeding edge health care transparency program:

"So, pick up a box of cereal, a package of pasta, or a can of peas, and you’ll find a handy little chart on the side. This is the Nutrition Facts label ... HealthcareFacts goes one (or three) better, by disclosing not just prices, but quality of care, outcomes, and more."

The idea was to distill critical, relevant health care cost information into as simple (and helpful) a form as possible. And it was indeed genius: who among us haven't at least glanced at the label on, say, that can of beans, or carton of milk? How great would it be to have that kind of detailed, but easily understood, information at one's fingertips when considering various health care options?

Fast forward 9 years, and, as Allison Bell reports, the federal SBC (Summary of Benefits) info required of all health care insurance plans have become bloated and useless:

"Federal regulators eventually decided that "four pages" could mean both sides of four sheets of paper."

Eight pages of fine print? Who reads that?

But it's "the law," so carriers are forced to toe the line.

Now, there's a movement afoot to reform that:

"When text boxes are long and full of complex terms, consumers will avoid reading the information in its entirety," officials say"

No kidding.

The reality is that people, as a rule, don't read their insurance policies any more than they read the EULA they agree to when they download a new app for their phone. Which is a shame: the whole point of the exercise is to produce a more well-informed health care and health insurance consumer, no?
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