New summaries simplify health insurance

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Now, your health plan will have to come with a simple translation, a sort of nutrition label for car insurance. I’m Doug Whiteman with your Personal Finance Minute.

A new phase of the health care reform law signed by President Obama requires health plans to offer a plain-language Summary of Benefits and Coverage, meant to cut through the industry jargon and legalese. The summary must be eight pages or less and include most of the details you’d want to know about health insurance, including information on deductibles, limits on out-of-pocket costs, co-payments, in-network versus out-of-network costs, and so on.

However, what you won’t find is the plan’s price tag. Insurers balked at including an estimated premium, because they said those can vary widely due to factors including family size.

The summary will be accompanied by a standard glossary of insurance lingo, from “allowed amount” to “urgent care.”

For more on health plans made simpler, visit I’m Doug Whiteman.