Proposed health plan label aims to educate

The American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have proposed a health plan label designed to provide consumers with a quick snapshot of the key elements in a health plan.

The label would include clear information on costs, coverage of services, indicators of a plan’s commitment to quality improvement and patient care, and choice of physicians and health care providers, according to an AHA press release.

Dick Davidson, MD, president of the AHA, and Ted Lewers, MD, the AMA’s secretary-treasurer, presented information about the health plan label to the President’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry.

"Our proposal provides [consumers] with basic facts about health plans in a simple, digestible, and uniform format," Davidson said. Health plan information should be as easy to read and compare as the standardized food labels in a grocery store, he added.

Help with decision making

The AHA and AMA describe the label as a work in progress designed to help consumers make informed health care decisions. According to the statement, the proposed label provides patients with basic information on the following four key health plan variables:

1. the extent to which a plan allows for choice of physicians or health providers;

2. out-of-pocket costs;

3. the scope of covered services and significant coverage limitations;

4. indicators of a plan’s commitment to quality improvement and patient care.