Lowering Out-of-Pocket Costs for Patients by Helping Them Pick the Right Health Plan

By Guest Blogger

This post was written by Nancy Hughes, Vice President for Communications and Marketing at the National Health Council.

Let’s say you are an enrollment assister who is working with a consumer with a chronic condition that flares up from time to time. Did you know their out-of-pocket spending for medical and drug costs (including deductibles and cost-sharing) could vary by more than 600 percent based on which health plan they buy in the health insurance marketplace? In some states, their total costs under a bronze plan (which has a lower monthly premium) could be more than double that under a platinum plan (which has a higher premium).

Organizations and individuals helping consumers enroll in coverage are tasked with helping consumers decide what level of coverage they can afford based on their health care needs and budget.  And now there are new tools and resources to help educate consumers about out-of-pocket costs so they can better evaluate their options!

The patient advocacy community, working with the National Health Council, has created an interactive suite of resources to help consumers understand their out-of-pocket costs as they shop for a marketplace plan. PuttingPatientsFirst.net is a unique platform that seeks to make consumers more informed about expected health care costs in the marketplace. Using a personalized out-of-pocket cost calculator and patient scenarios, the new website helps explain how individuals’ costs can vary under the different metal plan designs. The tools allow consumers to calculate their costs based on their expected primary and specialist care, hospitalizations and surgeries, and use of specific prescription medications.

PuttingPatientsFirst.net helps consumers evaluate their health care needs and decide what combination of cost and coverage works best for them over the course of a year. The National Health Council and its partners believe consumers need this information to make informed decisions about the health plans that will work best for them.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, individuals across the nation are purchasing quality, affordable health plans without worrying about being denied for a pre-existing condition or being charged more because they are sick. However, shopping for health insurance can be complex and time-consuming.

The patient advocacy community is encouraging all people involved in the effort to improve access to affordable health care to visit PuttingPatientsFirst.net, use the calculator to better understand the plan options in their state, share their experiences about the marketplace, and invite others to use this new interactive site. As we all know, enrollment in the insurance marketplace closes very soon. Your actions could make a difference for someone seeking better health coverage.

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