HHS Unveils Online Tool To Aid Small Businesses in Finding Health Plans
On Friday, HHS launched a new Web-based tool that allows small-business owners to compare locally available health plan benefits and their costs, Modern Healthcare reports.
The tool -- which businesses can access through the HealthCare.gov website created under the federal health reform law -- provides information from more than 530 insurers about more than 2,700 plans (Lee, Modern Healthcare, 11/18).
Using their ZIP codes, business owners can obtain data, such as:
- The average cost and out-of-pocket limits for each worker;
- Summaries about the cost and coverage with available deductibles, co-payments and benefits; and
- Their options based on variables such as prescription drug, mental health and maternity coverage.
Comments About the New Site
Officials from the National Federation of Independent Business -- which opposes the health reform law and is involved in a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the overhaul -- praised the new website provision.
Amanda Austin, the group's director of federal public policy, said such tools that employ consumer-driven approaches will be helpful for small-business owners (Bristol, CQ HealthBeat, 11/18).
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the site "will help business owners navigate what has traditionally been a complicated and confusing decision," adding, "Both owners and their employees can feel more confident that the plans offered will be the best to suit everyone's needs" (Modern Healthcare, 11/18).
According to HHS, small businesses spend as much as 18% more than larger companies for the same amount of health benefits (CQ HealthBeat, 11/18).
Department of Treasury Report
Earlier this month, a new report from the Department of Treasury's office of the inspector general for tax administration found that fewer than expected small businesses have taken advantage of a tax credit under the overhaul to help provide health coverage for employees (California Healthline, 11/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.