Health Reform - Individual States Given More Flexibility And Freedom, USA
US states are being given more freedom and flexibility in the implementation of health reform as stipulated in the Affordable Care Act, which aims to make sure all US citizens have access to affordable, quality health insurance, according to a bulletin released by the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services).
In order to achieve cover for everybody, the law aims to ensure that health insurance plans on offer have a comprehensive package of services and items, which the HHS refers to as “essential health benefits”. In today’s HHS bulletin, there is a proposal that explains to stakeholders how it plans to define essential health benefits.
In a communiqué, the HHS wrote:
“HHS is releasing this intended approach to give consumers, states, employers and issuers timely information as they work toward establishing Exchanges and making decisions for 2014. This approach was developed with significant input from the public, as well as reports from the Department of Labor, the Institute of Medicine, and research conducted by HHS.”
HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, said:
“Under the Affordable Care Act, consumers and small businesses can be confident that the insurance plans they choose and purchase will cover a comprehensive and affordable set of health services. Our approach will protect consumers and give states the flexibility to design coverage options that meet their unique needs.”
The HHS proposes that individual states have the freedom and flexibility to choose an existing health plan to set the standard for the services and items, to be the necessary components of an essential health benefits package.
The following health insurance plans would be chosen as a benchmark:
One out of the three largest group plans that exist in the state
One out of the three largest state employee health plans that exist in the state
The biggest HMO plan available in the commercial market of that state
The individual state would then be able to include the benefits and services from the health insurance plan it had selected, to devise the essential health benefits package.