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Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
National cartoonist Dave Granlund's blog features his take on politics and current events -- in cartoon form
Blog: New health care offers easy-to-understand information
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By Dave Granlund
National cartoonist Dave Granlund's blog features his take on politics and current events. Dave has been an editorial cartoonist published in daily newspapers since 1977. Born in Ware, Mass., Granlund began drawing cartoons in grade school and at ...
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Dave Granlund's Editorial Cartoons
National cartoonist Dave Granlund's blog features his take on politics and current events. Dave has been an editorial cartoonist published in daily newspapers since 1977. Born in Ware, Mass., Granlund began drawing cartoons in grade school and at age 16, he was published on the editorial pages of local weekly newspapers. His eight-year enlistment in the USAF included assignments with SAC HQ and with Headquarters Command, where his duties included work as head illustrator for the Presidential Inaugural Subcommittee and providing briefing charts for the White House and support for Air Force One. As part of NATO in Operation Looking Glass with the Airborne Command Post, he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Dave's newspaper honors include awards from UPI, New England Press Association, International Association of Business Communicators, The Associated Press and Massachusetts Press Association. His work has been nominated numerous times for the Pulitzer Prize. His pastimes and interests include history, wood carving, antique tractors and Swedish language studies.
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Oct. 24, 2012 10 a.m.

With the new health care law, millions of Americans will have access to standardized, easy-to-understand information about health plan benefits and coverage. Insurance companies and employers are now required to provide consumers in the private health insurance market with a brief summary of what a health insurance policy or employer plan covers, called a Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC). Additionally, consumers will have access to a Uniform Glossary that defines insurance and medical terms in standard, consumer-friendly terms.

These tools will also assist employers in finding the best coverage for their business and employees.

"Thanks to the health care law, Americans will now get clear, consistent and comparable information when shopping for health coverage," said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "These new tools empower consumers to make informed decisions about their health coverage options and to choose the plan that is best for them, their families, and their business."

The SBC includes a new comparison tool, called Coverage Examples, which is modeled on the Nutrition Facts label required for packaged food, that helps consumers compare coverage options by showing a standardized sample of what each health plan will cover for two common medical situations—having a baby and managing type 2 diabetes.

The SBC will include information about the covered health benefits, out-of-pocket costs, and the network of providers. The glossary defines terms commonly used in the health insurance market, such as "deductible" and "co-pay," using clear language.

Before today, people often lacked uniform and comparable information when shopping for coverage, often relying only on marketing materials to make decisions. Starting this fall, consumers will receive the SBC free of charge and in writing from the consumers' insurance company or employer. This information can be requested at any time, but it will also be made available when shopping for, enrolling in or renewing coverage. It will also be provided whenever information in the SBC changes significantly.

The SBC will be available beginning today for consumers in the individual health insurance market. For enrollees in group health plans enrolling during an open enrollment period, it will be available during the next open enrollment period that starts on or after Sept. 23, 2012. For enrollees who enroll outside of an open enrollment period, it will be available at the start of the next plan year that begins on or after Sept. 23, 2012.

The SBC and Glossary were developed in collaboration with the Department of Labor, Department of Treasury, consumer groups, the insurance industry, State Insurance Commissioners, and other stakeholders.

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