States to Have More Flexibility in Setting Essential Benefits: HHS

States will be given wide latitude to decide what “essential benefits” insurers must offer in policies offered on new health exchanges come 2014, HHS announced last week.  Instead of one national standard, states will be able to design benchmark plans based on one of four choices: The benefits offered in one of the three largest federal employee plans (by enrollment), one of the three largest plans offered to their state employees, one of the three largest small-business plans in the state or the plan offered by the largest HMO in the state.  Because state employee plans and policies sold in the states can vary widely, the move means there will likely not be one national standard benefit package, but rather “benchmark” plans in each state.  Click here to review the 15-page bulletin.  Click here for a good summary from the NY Times.


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