California Group Expands Insurance Tool Nationwide
A new Web site and telephone hot line developed by the Foundation for Health Coverage Education allow consumers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to use an interactive tool to determine their eligibility for public and private health plans, the Washington Post reports.
Consumers who visit the Web site or call the hot line must provide their state of residence and answer five questions related to household income, employment status and previous medical conditions, and other personal information.
According to the Post, the system, first implemented in California and expanded nationwide this year, does not include new information, but the interactive tool allows consumers to "shortcut through complexities to personalized options much more quickly and easily."
Phil Lebherz -- a California health insurance executive who designed the system, which receives support from Blue Cross of California and other health insurers -- said that about 14 million U.S. residents qualify for, but are not enrolled in, public health plans.
Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for Families USA, said, "It's a useful Web site, and I think it will help people locate sources of insurance." However, many consumers who use the Web site and hot line will continue to experience problems because "the eligibility levels (for public health plans) are very complicated," Stoll said (Gerber, Washington Post, 8/21).