California has golden opportunity to transform a dysfunctional health insurance marketplace into a consumer friendly one

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By Consumers Union on Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Have you ever switched insurance due to a change of employment, loss of income or other circumstances?  Have you been confused about where to file a complaint involving about an insurer?  Have you ever been confused about your insurance options in the public or private marketplace?  If so, you are not alone.

One of the most important reforms of California’s health insurance marketplace is to make it more consumer friendly.  Ideally, that means the days of runarounds and confusion will give way to clarity, simplicity and competition based on cost and quality.

This week, California’s Health Benefits Exchange Board began exploring some of the avenues available to reform a marketplace that is seemingly designed to confuse and disenfranchise consumers.  Consumers Union’s Betsy Imholz provided testimony on what the consumer experience should be like when they shop for insurance or are seeking to resolve a grievance. 

Her message, there should be “no wrong door” to finding coverage for your particular needs and circumstance; your experience should be “seamless” as you explore insurance options provided in the exchange.   Similarly, the grievance process should meet consumers’ needs efficiently, not grind you down until you throw your hands up in frustration.   

The board is open to these points, but we don’t want to leave room for doubt in their minds. Anything short of an easy-to-use, sensible system would waste an opportunity to make our insurance marketplace work for California’s families, small businesses and their employees. That is why we are asking you to share your story.  

What has your experience been with shopping for insurance, either because of a change in employment or income?  Have you ever been confused about where to go to file a grievance about an insurer?   Share your story by clicking here. 

Your input is vital to ensuring the Board gets the consumer message loud and clear-We want a system that works for us!

The Board’s next meeting will be on June 15th.  If you cannot make it to Sacramento, you can listen to the broadcast of the meeting on their website.  For more information about the board’s activities, materials and agendas from past and upcoming meetings visit their website by clicking here.

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