A Summary of Benefits and Coverage is supposed to make shopping for health insurance plans less confusing for consumers. But at what cost?
A survey of national health plans found the overall cost could be much higher than the feds’ estimate.
According to the health insurance industry’s national trade association America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the up-front cost of implementing the new coverage summaries could run as high as $188 million the first year, or a little more than $1 per enrollee. That figure is 2.5 times the government’s estimate of $73 million.
At this point, SBCs are a done deal; insurers and employers can do little to reduce the administrative costs associated with generating and distributing the documents, which are required for each plan option offered to employees. Both insurers and employers are equally responsible for distributing SBCs to eligible employees. September 23, 2012, is the deadline for including SBCs and the accompanying Uniform Glossary of terms in open enrollment packets.
Not surprisingly, businesses are turning to technology to cut costs as best they can. Eighty-eight% of respondents in a survey by Highroads, an employer healthcare compliance and benefits management company, said they post health plan documents on a portal or intranet for employees as a less expensive alternative to print distribution.