The Obama administration is working to address two of the most common consumer complaints about the ACA: out-of-pocket costs and inaccurate provider directories. Federal health officials hope to provide a calculator that will estimate the annual out-of-pocket costs under a health plan so that consumers are not relying on premium costs alone when they select a health plan. In addition, insurers will now be required to update and correct provider directories at least once per month. Inaccurate directories could result in consumers using out-of-network providers and incurring higher costs. And, if providers aren’t participating in the network or taking new patients, consumers may not have access to covered services. Inaccuracies with provider directories aren’t limited to plans offered through public exchanges, so the Obama Administration is working to increase the accuracy of Medicare directories as well. Employers may want to discuss timeliness of network provider updates with carrier partners. If providing hard-copy directories, they may want to request “as needed” rather than keeping a supply of network directories or request monthly updates like those being required of insurers participating in the public exchanges.
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