Bill Would Establish Collection of Health Cost Data

Assembly member Roger Hernández (D – West Covina) announced the introduction of AB 1558. This bill would ensure public access to comprehensive and uniform information on healthcare costs and prices via a website while protecting patient confidentiality and respecting providers of care. All-payer claims databases have been established in several states including Maine, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Kansas.

Covered California Launches Self-Service SHOP Website

SmallBusinessCovered California officially launched the full self-enrollment function of the Small Business Health Options (SHOP) online marketplace. It will enable small businesses to fully enroll for coverage that may begin as early as Jan. 1, 2014. Previously, small business employers have been able to register online, check their eligibility and work with a certified insurance agent to get a quote. The new system enhancements now allow online enrollment functionality for SHOP, including online quoting, the ability to submit an online application atwww.coveredca.com in real-time, and the ability for employers to initiate electronic open enrollment for their employees.

Since registration opened in August, more than 22,000 licensed agents have signed up to become certified to sell Covered California products, with more than 7,000 agents certified and available to help individual consumers and small employers in the Covered California marketplace. The increased website functionality also includes a number of new features available for the certified insurance agent community, such as the ability to create an online profile for an individual consumer or small employer, the ability to start and submit an application on behalf of an individual or small employer, and, the ability to process and manage employer online enrollment applications for SHOP.

HHS Website Offers New Health Insurance Tools

HHS is offering new tools at  www.HealthCare.gov. It also offers a 24-hour-a-day consumer call center to help Americans prepare for open enrollment and sign up for private health insurance. The new tools will help people understand their choices and select the coverage when open enrollment begins on October 1 for the new Health Insurance Marketplace. The Website integrates social media, sharable content, and engagement destinations for consumers. The site will also launch with a Web chat function. The call center will provide educational information between now and the start of open enrollment. Beginning Oct. 1, it will help consumers complete applications and select plans. The call center provides assistance in more than 150 languages. For more information, visit www.HealthCare.gov.

New Exchange Website Helps Agents Stay Compliant

CoveredCaliforniaThe California Health Benefit Exchange website,www.CoveredCA.com, is now live. California Health Underwriters (CAHU) is urging agents to visit the site and review all the marketing materials to avoid violating AB 1761 rules. AB 1761, which took effect January 1, prohibits any individual or website from attempting to hold their selves, plans or websites out as officially authorized as “Covered California” certified or approved.

CAHU says that word has come down that the Exchange plans a hard crackdown on violators of AB 1761 provisions. AB 1761 was supported by all three-agent organizations as well as other consumer health advocates.

The Covered California website has been designed for ease of use by all stakeholders, including licensed agents and employers. In fact, the new website contains individual and small employer content on the Small Employer Health Options Program (SHOP) section. A newsletter about SHOP Exchange happenings is expected to launch sometime in the first quarter of 2013. The site, which is available in English and Spanish, also offers a variety of fact sheets in 11 additional languages. It provides basic information about the Exchange and a calculator to give Californians an estimate of how much help they can get to reduce their premium costs.

Website Compares Health Insurance Plans

A new website called “HealthPocket.com” enables consumers to compare  every health insurance plan in their geographic region. Consumers can get information on the price and quality of their health insurance options without any insurance company paying to showcase its own plans or highlight information. Similar to online sites like Amazon or Kayak, HealthPocket.com filters all plans offered in a geographic area by cost of premiums, cost of drugs covered, and quality of the plan. Consumers can use the site to get information and even get connected with an insurance provider, but HealthPocket.com does not broker sales of health insurance.

“Existing online health insurance sites have at least one fatal flaw — they steer consumers only toward the health plans that have paid to be one of the options, which skews the results. Other sites require the user to divulge personally identifiable information before providing any results. HealthPocket.com shares all the information people need to make a decision, without requiring anything from them and without any pay for placement from insurers,” said Steve Zaleznick, who leads consumer outreach for HealthPocket, Inc.

More than half of the U.S. population will need to make choices about their health insurance carrier by 2014 with millions of Medicare beneficiaries facing a Dec. 7 deadline for enrolling in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and/or Medicare Advantage plans. For more information, visitwww.healthpocket.com.

Last Updated 10/20/2021

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