Consumer Protection in Private Health Insurance: The Role of Consumer Complaints. D. Public Education Activities

06/01/2000

Publication of Complaints Information

The NAIC notes that in response to a survey sent to all state insurance departments, 26 states indicated that they "publish complaint information in either an annual report, consumer brochure or on the department's web site". However the Draft White Paper is relatively silent as to the desirability of publicizing complaints information. Instead, the NAIC notes that "insurance departments should develop specific protocols consistent with state Information and Open Records laws to make information in closed individual complaint files public". Unlike other topics in the paper, the NAIC does not cite particular examples of best practice in regard to publication and dissemination.

Outreach

The NAIC suggests that "Insurance Departments should pursue programs that increase the accessibility of complaint analysts and consumer education services to all consumers".

While outreach programs are generally thought of as a way of increasing visibility and promoting greater use of services, the NAIC suggests that consumer outreach and education programs "may help prevent complaints", in addition to addressing consumer issues. Examples of outreach activities cited in the Draft White Paper include: consumer brochures, field offices, a Commissioner's Bulletin or a department seminar, a Speaker's Bureau and visits to groups including recreation facilities for the elderly, libraries and chambers of commerce.