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We've been working on a utility for helping people make sense of vital health insurance features & options quickly and easily. We want to share it in draft form with you.

Summaries of Benefits and Coverage (SBCs) - Consumer Reports calls them "nutrition facts labels for health insurance" - are the most popular feature of the Affordable Care Act, according to Kaiser Health tracking poll data (see last slide on the page - slide 10).

SBCs report a health policy's features in a standardized way. The same features are described, with the same labels, in the same order, for every policy, from every health insurer, employer, or other provider of health insurance coverage. Every organization providing health insurance or health benefits is obliged to provide an SBC to every person the policy covers. Over 200 million Americans can expect to receive an SBC this fall, if they have not received one already.

SBCs look like this. Here is an actual SBC, available to anyone on the internet.  Remember, they are meant to be shared.

If you live in the US and have health insurance, you may have gotten a document like this from your insurer during the past few months. Over 200 million people in the US will receive an SBC in 2013 - and they have no place, no way, to easily work with their SBC online. No way to find SBCs, make notes, compare with other SBCs, store, or share online.


Until now.

The utility we've put together is CoverageFacts. It enables users to do the simple kind of feature comparisons people expect to be able to carry out using familiar web-based technologies. You can do it for cameras, or cars, or dates - why not health insurance?

You don't use CoverageFacts to purchase health insurance coverage. There are already lots of ways to do that. Lots and lots of incompatible ways that no one - NO one - will straighten out merely by throwing more technology and programming code at them. (You heard it here first!).

What we DO help you do is get a much better idea of what you, your spouse, a friend, an employer, an insurer is promising to cover, what YOU pay, what they pay, and where to get more info. In one place. with information we have, and that you have been given by your employer, your insurer, your union, the Google, etc, etc.

And you do it by comparing your plan's SBC with SBCs for plans that your family members, your friends, your loved ones, your employers, your advisors and maybe even complete strangers can provide you with. Just ask them!

So now you can make sense of your coverage options together, focusing on the features you care about. And you can do it in a simple, sensible way you probably have not been able to ever before.


CoverageFacts is far from perfect - or finished - but our feeling is it is good enough to invite people who are interested in the challenges of communicating health benefits features to give it a try. Let us know what you think.

You will find simple instructions for using CoverageFacts below. Your comments and questions are welcome.

Greg Judd [gjudd@biginsights.com]
benefits information group
Developer of CoverageFacts

TRY COVERAGEFACTS NOW

1) Visit the site: http://www.coveragefacts.com. Explorer or FireFox browsers seem to work best currently. Tablet users have also reported challenges. We have not set up coveragefacts.com for smartphone use yet.

2) login using tryit1@biginsights.com / tryit1 and click Saved Comparisons to select a saved comparison for review. It will give you an idea of what you can do with ANY SBCs you want to upload to and compare with CoverageFacts.

OR

Register an account: http://www.coveragefacts.com/register.php - enter your email address, a password, click enter, check your mail for confirmation.

3) Visit http://www.biginsights.com/CF/sampleSBCs.html for a handful of URLs for Summaries of Benefits and Coverage documents made available by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan and CalPERS. The links return PDF copies of the SBCs. You'll find a table with links to SBCs at the bottom of this introduction. Practically all employers, insurers, and plan administrators will be transmit SBCs to users in PDF format .

4) Save the sample PDFs you choose to your system, then upload them in the labeled spaces on CoverageFacts.com (We'll soon enable you to upload directly from URLs).

5) Select a coverage feature from the lists of 20 items above the SBC display panes. The comparison controls are pretty conventional, and you can't break anything (we think), so try what feels right.

We recommend trying the 'overlay' view, as well as saving a comparison and adding notes to features you compare.

Links for actual SBCs

Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan

2013 Blue Shield Basic Option

2013 Blue Shield Standard Option


2013 MHBP Value Option
CalPERS

2013 Blue Shield NetValue

2013 Kaiser Health Plan

2013 PERS Choice