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Senate Adds Online Consumer Reviews to Their Health Care Bill

December 7, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate on Monday unanimously approved an elegant, two-page amendment to the health care bill that Sen. Mark Pryor [D, AR], the amendment’s sponsor, says will “both simplify a consumer’s search for the right health care company and make health insurance companies more responsive to patient needs.”

Under the Senate health care bill, by 2014 states would have to set up new health insurance marketplaces known in the bill as “American Health Benefit Exchanges.” These exchanges would have some regulatory qualities — they would only let in plans that meet certain minimum standards — but, essentially, they would be websites where people buying insurance on the individual market could comparison shop between different plans. The details of all the plans on the exchanges would be presented in a standardized manner so consumers could easily compare plans on things like price, deductibles and covered services.

Pryor’s amendment would add customer satisfaction information to the Exchanges. Ezra Klein says it would make shopping for health care more like looking for a good book on Amazon.com. It’s a helpful analogy, but unlike Amazon’s system that allows anyone to describe a product in their own words, Pryor’s amendment would create an enrollee satisfaction survey to be administered by the Secretary of Health and Human Services using a numerical rating system.

It’s modeled after the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program, which provides health care to members of Congress. The program lets enrollees rate different aspects of their plans on a scale of 1-100 and then makes the aggregate data available to federal employees to help guide their future health care purchasing decisions. The system lets you compare the ratings of plans on things like “how well doctors communicate” and “claims processing,” but it doesn’t let you read in detail about a nightmare experience that someone may have had with customer service.

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Comments

  • mrbanks 12/08/2009 8:55am
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    + -1

    Wow – this is a great idea!! — NOT!!!
    Let’s see how much this will cost to set-up. Probably a min. or 2-3mil and then someone or really a team to monitor this – good for them – new jobs, maybe they can do this from home. So maint will cost only another 2-3mil a year after that. Smart move and use of our tax dollars.

  • crisaily 12/24/2009 11:06am

    This has to be one of the most incompetent idiotic bills ever proposed. I thought I lived in a FREE country. I am tired of Govt. shoving crap like this down my throat, telling me I have to do this and and that. Where do the get off telling me that I must buy health coverage or pay a fine.
    Why is it that most things in the bill will not kick in for 3-4 years because there is a n election and They all want to get re-elected BEFORE the public finds out what this bill will REALLY do to Americans, the economy and America.

    I did not expect miracles when I voted for OBAMA but I thought that politics actually had a chance to change…maybe not be better but at least not as bad…This bill and all it’s “pet projects”, behind close door secrets, and last minute bribes just goes to show that it is POLITICS as usual and it’s never gonna change.
    I for one will not be casting my vote for my democratic senator, representative, a second time. They wanted my vote,t hey got it, NOW they just LOST it.

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