Health Plan Model Disappoints

What is the essential core of a health insurance policy that every insurer should have to offer its customers? The federal government is struggling to come up with a definition, but it's proving to be not so easy.

Most people know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health reform plan that was passed in 2010 and remains under political attack, imposes a series of requirements on health insurers. But most people also remain confused about what’s required of the companies that insure them.

Kaiser Health News helps interpret a recent document released by the Department of Health and Human Services previewing what most health plans must offer by way of insurance-covered services beginning in 2014.

Individual states have some latitude in defining “essential benefits” that must be part of coverage for individuals or small businesses, but the law is clear that 10 benefit categories must be included. States can decide, for example, how many doctor visits are allowed.

The HHS released a list of insurance plans names and network types that states may follow, but the feds’ document doesn’t include the benefits covered by those plans. And it doesn’t express a preference for what it would like to see covered.

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