Health Insurance Exchanges: How will they work?

August 3rd, 2009 by Mimi Yin
I keep seeing this in article after article about healthcare reform:
“Members of both parties in both chambers want to create health insurance exchanges, where people could shop for insurance and compare policies.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/01/health/policy/01health.html?_r=1&hp
What does this mean? Who will run the exchange? How will it work?
How are people going to shop for insurance and compare policies? Based on descriptions of the health plans we get from insurance companies today? That feels unsatisfactory. In my experience, even just choosing between the 2-3 plans offered by my employer felt random.
Are health insurance companies going to have to release more data about what they actually end up covering and how much people actually pay out of pocket per year?
Will customers have an opportunity to review these products and provide their own numbers as a reality check on what the insurance companies claim they will provide?

Grace's Bill - Left Side

Grace's Bill - Right Side

I keep seeing this in article after article about healthcare reform:

“Members of both parties in both chambers want to create health insurance exchanges, where people could shop for insurance and compare policies.”

What does this mean? Who will run the exchange? How will it work?

How are people going to shop for insurance and compare policies? Based on descriptions of the health plans we get from insurance companies today? That feels unsatisfactory. In my experience, even just choosing between the 2-3 plans offered by my employer felt random.

Are health insurance companies going to have to release more data about what they actually end up covering and how much people actually pay out of pocket per year?

Will customers have an opportunity to review these products and provide their own numbers as a reality check on what the insurance companies claim they will provide?

Above are 2 halves of Grace’s health insurance bill for June. (I wanted to make sure you could see all the details.) Can you decipher it?¬†It’s for an eye exam and contacts! It’s also a sad example of what people mean when they complain that there’s too much paperwork in healthcare. How much $$$ was spent just processing this bill?

And this “bill” (an itemized statement of money owed for goods shipped or services rendered) doesn’t even tell Grace what she owes. She had to call to confirm. Apparently she owed $0. Go figure.

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