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TMCNet:  New Resource Helps Californians Compare Out-of-Pocket Insurance Costs in Marketplace Coverage

[March 17, 2014]

New Resource Helps Californians Compare Out-of-Pocket Insurance Costs in Marketplace Coverage

SACRAMENTO, Calif. --(Business Wire)--

The National Health Council (NHC) and the California Partnership for Access to Treatment (CPAT) hosted "Putting Patients First: Getting Patients to the Right Plan," at the Sacramento Convention Center today, an event to unveil a new online toolkit to assist Californians with lowering their healthcare costs by finding the right insurance plan to meet their health and budget needs.

Created by the NHC, PuttingPatientsFirst.net is a customized platform that assists consumers in researching the expected health care costs in the marketplace using a personalized out-of-pocket cost estimator and patient scenarios. The tool can explain how an individual's costs can vary under different health insurance plan designs.

"Our goal is to help consumers understand their out of pocket health care costs as they shop for a marketplace plan in California," said Marc Boutin, Executive Vice President and COO of the National Health Council. "Patients currently do not have the tools to fully understand the full impact of insurance costs by using PuttingPatientsFirst.net, patients can estimate their costs based on their health care needs, including prescription medications, and choose from six patient scenarios to see how changes in health needs impact the selection of health insurance plans through Covered California."

As of March 4, According to Covered California, 38,507 consumers in four Sacramento-area counties had enrolled in coverage. Statewide, approximately 729,000 California residents have enrolled for health coverage through Covered California. The state had projected signing up about 500,000 to 700,000 individuals in private coverage by the end of open enrollment March 31. (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED, 2/19).

"Recent data shows most people are enrolling in bronze and silver plans," said Liz Helms, California Chronic Care Coalition President. "But for people with complex chronic conditions, lower premium plans may not always be the best choice. We want patients to make the right decisions the first time. PuttingPatientsFirst.net will help patients evaluate their health care needs, decide what combination of cost and coverage works best for them in the long run, and consider their options using different plan groups prior to purchasing coverage."

Since Covered California lunched January 1, more than 24,000 low-income Californians have been dropped from health plans they had pre-ACA. Most of the more than 600,000 residents dropped from the Low Income Health Program do qualify for Medi-Cal but those who don't are now left to find coverage for themselves. Cancellations also include plans for residents with chronic disease and disabilities who depend on their health care plans for medications and treatment. (Department of Healthcare Services Release 12/31/2013)


"Now that the marketplace is largely up and running, it's important that California's minority populations have the tools to make informed decisions when choosing a health insurance plan," stated Alice Huffman, State Conference President California Hawaii NAACP. "Similar to purchasing a vehicle, consumers need to research prior to their purchase, whether a Mini Van or a Mini Cooper best suits their needs, based on personal and family factors such as income, health conditions and where you live. PuttingPatientsFirst.net helps all of California's diverse communities explore their options prior to securing affordable coverage by understanding the full impact of their health insurance costs."

For more information on this Putting Patients First event visit: https://gettingpatientstotherighthealthplan-cpatseminar.eventbrite.com/

Resources:

The National Health Council (NHC) is the only organization that brings together all segments of the health community to provide a united voice for the more than 133 million people living with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers. For more information visit www.nationalhealthcouncil.org.

The California Partnership for Access to Treatment (CPAT) is a diverse network of advocacy organizations, community groups, health care providers and employers, committed to ensuring a healthy and productive California. For more information visit www.caaccess.org.


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