Well-written, well-designed brochures could help ease Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) implementation problems.
Lynn Quincy, a health policy specialist at Consumers Union, makes that case in two written presentations.
The Consumer Liaison Committee, an arm of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), has included the presentations in a packet of materials the committee has developed for the NAIC’s upcoming spring meeting in Houston.
In one presentation, Quincy talks about tests of a model brochures that states could use to explain the new PPACA advanced premium tax credit (APTC) program.
The APTC program — the new PPACA health insurance subsidy program — is supposed to help consumers with incomes of 100 percent to 400 percent of the federal poverty level buy subsidized health coverage through the new PPACA exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets.
In a second presentation, Quincy gives a short version of the results of a Consumers Union study of the usability of the new PPACA summaries of benefits and coverage (SBCs)
Drafters of PPACA added the SBC provision to require plans to provide consumers with short, standardized health plan summaries, to help consumers and employers shop for coverage on an apples-to-apples basis. SBC notice requirements began to take effect Sept. 23, 2012.
In the APTC presentation, Quincy looked at tests of a model brochure developed with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Consumers can choose to get the PPACA tax credit in two different ways.
For the 2014 tax year, for example, they can wait until they file their 2014 income tax returns — in early 2015 — to get the tax credit money.
They also can lower their health insurance bills in 2014 by collecting the credit starting in early 2014, while the tax year is still under way, and before they know what their total 2014 income will be.
Under a description of the option for consumers to wait to take the tax credit until they file their taxes in 2015, a hypothetical consumer says, “I can afford the monthly premium. So, I’m taking the tax credit later. I like the idea of getting a bigger refund next April. I’ll use it to get my kids a better computer.”