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Say 'Aaah' | Your Health Online

Defining the Terms of Insurance Jargon

February 19, 2001|Benedict Carey

Assn. of Health Insurance Advisors http://www.ahia.net

Background: The AHIA is a national association of health insurance agents, consultants and benefits specialists that lobbies on behalf of its members and keeps them updated on legislation and trends in the business. The site's new "consumer information" section attempts to bring some of that information to customers.

What Works: In the "key health and insurance terms" feature, you'll find quick definitions for all the awful insider insurance jargon that everyone seems to have to know these days--capitation, community ratings, ERISA laws, preferred provider organizations, and so on. The site also provides very good wraps of specific types of coverage, such as long-term health care, explaining what it is, what it costs and whether you're likely to need it. The page on obtaining health insurance is certainly worth reading--before you go find an agent.

What Doesn't: The heart longs for some kind of feature that would provide a rough outline answering the question: What type of coverage should we be considering, based on who we are and what we do? That's not an easy question to answer, but if anyone could give some general advice and ballpark figures, it's insurance agents. When it comes to providing information about insurance companies, this site defers to financial ratings services such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's. That's for accountants. What consumers want to know about is a company's reputation, its record in paying claims quickly, and the policies it specializes in. The site tempts visitors with an "articles" section with topics from cafeteria plans to spouse insurance--but you have to hand over your e-mail address and wait for the goods.

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