Your Source for Health Reform

Topic: Consumer Info



All informational resources are not alike. Some analyze the effects of reform on the nation or the economy, or give detailed guidance to lawyers, brokers and navigators on the fine points of the law and the regulations surrounding it. But there are many valuable resources like charts and fact sheets that explain in simple language what you need to know to make the best decisions for yourself, your family, or your small business.


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What to Know About Provider Networks

This December 2014 fact sheet from the Illinois Department of Insurance explains how consumers can know the strength of their insurance plan’s doctor and hospital network. The fact sheet details how consumers can verify that a provider is network, what to do if a type of provider is not included in a plan, and what sufficiency standards all plans are required to follow.

Beware of Out-of-Network Benefits

This December 2014 fact sheet from the Illinois Department of Insurance describes how to read an insurance plan’s summary of benefits section for the costs of out-of-network care. The information can help consumers avoid paying unexpectedly high medical bills.

2015 Analysis of Qualified Health Plans

The Illinois Department of Insurance examines the new options marketplace consumers can choose from for the 2015 enrollment period. The analysis includes information on the number of plans offered in geographic areas and data on rate changes.

Breakdown of New Enrollment Rules

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services just released new information explaining how passive and active enrollment on the federal marketplace will work. This December 2015 Health Affairs blog post clarifies the complicated CMS guidance and details the processes for consumers when they choose a new plan and when they decide to remain with their old plan.

Your Healthcare Questions Answered

For the November 15 to February 15 enrollment period, Consumer Reports is addressing common concerns that consumers may have about healthcare and applying for insurance through its “healthlawhelper.” Consumer Reports includes prompts for questions and links to resources with answers. The information addresses topics such as how to pay for health insurance, what to do if a consumer is losing health insurance, and even allows consumers to e-mail their specific questions.

Network Adequacy Can Impact Quality of Care

Although enrolling in a health insurance plan is important, the medical options available through a plan can also impact an individual’s ability to access care and stay healthy. Network adequacy refers to the quality and quantity of healthcare choices that a person has within a certain plan. This October 2014 explainer from Families USA summarizes the basics of network adequacy and details how it can impact individuals trying to get care through their health plans – all in just six slides.

Eating Healthy When Eating Out

Most people do not know how many calories they consume when dining at a restaurant, which can make it difficult to choose healthful options. The FDA now requires restaurants chains with more than 20 locations to post their calorie information on menus. This November 2014 FDA consumer update describes what consumers can expect as the new rules take effect.

How to Pick an Insurance Plan

These tips from Consumer Reports outline three major questions you need to ask when picking a plan: What does the plan cover? How much does the plan cost? Which doctors and hospitals are in it? The resource was updated in September 2014.

Financial Assistance in the Marketplace

This October 2014 brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation answers questions about the two types of health insurance subsidies available to lower- and moderate income families – the premium tax credit and cost-sharing subsidies. It explains who is eligible, what amounts are available to people, and how the assistance will be provided.

Medical Cost Lookup

This medical cost estimator from FAIR Health lets you find out the likely out-of-pocket costs for a range of medical procedures, services and supplies. The estimates are based on what healthcare professionals commonly charge in your zip code.

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