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Supporting Consumers' Decisions in the Exchange

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With the arrival of the insurance exchanges, an estimated 22 million people will have the opportunity to choose their coverage through an exchange.  Many of these consumers could make the “wrong” plan choice, selecting a plan that doesn’t meet their health care needs or is not a good value for them.  Exchange leaders have a critical role to play in supporting consumers in their search for high quality, affordable options that best meet their individual needs.

Through the Helping Vulnerable Consumers in the Exchange Project, the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) has created a set of resources that exchanges can use as they build their consumer choice decision support. The resources combine evidence from our plan choice research and the rich consumer choice architecture research literature. The resources have been prepared by PBGH, informed by research and guidance from research teams at Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University. This project is made possible by the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Issue Briefs provide an overview of important plan choice decision support topics. Each 3- to 4-page brief includes decision support rules that exchanges can use to build their consumer choice software rules as well as implementation guidance and research evidence.

B basic-5-point-gold-star-beveled Top 5 Rules for Decision Support, and Strategies to Bridge the Gaps

  1. Plan Comparison Display Format
  2. Cost Calculator
  3. Organizing Plans Using Filters and Sorts
  4. Important Dimensions of Plan Choice
  5. QuickChoice: Shortcut to Plan Choice
  6. Searching for Doctor in Plan
  7. Plan and Provider Quality Ratings
  8. Communicating Difficult Concepts
Additional Resources
  • Consumer Experience Survey: Based on PBGH's consumer research and other survey resources (including CMS' draft marketplace survey), this set of questions forms the backbone of a consumer experience survey targeting key domains across the application, plan shopping, and enrollment experiences.
  • Decision Support Rules for Health Exchanges, Installments 1-3, is an in-depth report of plan choice decision support recommendations and research evidence.
  • Companion Excel file provides details about the information required of health plans to support consumers in making plan choices.

For more information, contact Emma Hoo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Read the latest PBGH researching and recommendations on this topic.