Health Insurance Exchanges (HIX) Must Explain Benefits and Costs

by Patrick Riley 30 Jul 2013
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I am not a strong advocate of hospitals advertising. I spent 15 years in the marketing world where I toiled at writing healthcare campaigns for hospitals, health systems, and managed care firms throughout the country. As I matured and began to understand healthcare consumer behavior I learned, and had to keep it to myself, that money spent to advertise a hospital's stroke protocol was a waste of money. When we become sick we go to the hospital closest to where we live or work. It is that simple. And we don't really care if a hospital is ranked #1 in the country by U.S. News & World Report either.

I do however also understand the imperative need to advertise and market health insurance. I sold it door-to-door to Medicare (age 65+) eligibles. Even though Medicare has been around since the LBJ administration in the '60s, few, if any seniors I spoke with knew the difference between Medicare Part A and B. Nor did they really care. It would take hours to explain Medicare. Hours, sometimes days before I could convince these fine people that a Medicare Advantage Plan was a good thing.

Now, in 2013, we are expecting on October 1st that Americans, by the million, will go online and fully understand 6 to 15 different options for health insurance and opt in with a click of a mouse to buy. Remarkable. This process is going to take a huge amount of patience, navigators to explain what an EHB is and determine if a family of four earning $87,000 a year are eligible (They will be, by the way) for health insurance. The IRS will have to validate this claim, again, online with real-time accuracy.

HIX success will be that much more possible if we, as healthcare consumers, understood better what our options and costs will be. It is that simple.

Please anticipate more from me on this topic and look for an up-to-date analysis as this massive national effort unfolds.

You can also follow me on Twitter to learn more about HIX and other Connected Health topics @Patrick_FrostHC

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