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



In addition to the toll-free line, the DHCA publishes a range of reports relevant to health insurance including:

  1. Consumer Bill of Rights for Vermonters covered by Managed Care Plans - this brochure explains in lay terms the protections offered to Vermonters including rights to information, appropriate treatment, and to ask questions or file complaints.
  2. Vermont Managed Health Care Plans A Guide for Consumers 1999 - this reports uses CAPHS and HEDIS data to compare the performance of the four managed care plans in Vermont.
  3. A Consumers' Guide to Health Insurance - This is a simple explanatory guide which also includes 2 pages explaining complaints, internal and external review and the Ombudsman.
  4. Lists of licensed carriers - The Department publishes lists of carriers licensed to sell insurance in the individual, small group and Medicare supplement markets, together with details of premiums for each of the companies.

The Ombudsman Office prepared a brochure explaining the operation of the program which was mailed to 250 social service agencies and groups, together with all medical providers in the state, in the first year of operation. More recently, a poster was produced and sent to all state agencies and medical providers. The other new initiative which the Ombudsman would like to get started in the next few months is a newsletter.

Demand for Publications

In 1998 the DHCA distributed about 12,000 copies of the information sheets on Vermont's Patients' Bill of Rights, including to individuals, libraries, community groups, conferences and annual meetings.

Outreach and Media

The DHCA Consumer Services Specialist meets with various groups to explain their rights and educate them as to the complaints and external review process.

The Ombudsman Office has received television coverage through local news stations. The Ombudsman also tries to participate in health fairs and conferences, speaking to consumer groups, advocacy and support groups. The Ombudsman considers a web site a very good idea, but has not yet had time to focus on getting a site developed.