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URAC Empowers Consumers' Health Care Choices with New Consumer Education Initiative
Date:12/22/2009

Program Helps Consumers Understand HealthCare Plans and Options

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- URAC, the nation's leading health care accreditation and education organization, today announced its new Consumer Education Initiative, which teaches consumers about health insurance and identifies ways they can make more informed decisions about their health care.

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"Many consumers need help navigating through the health care maze. Often they do not understand what their health care plan covers and how to ask the right questions to get the best plan for their individual needs," said Alan P. Spielman, president and CEO of URAC. "Knowing when to select an HMO versus a PPO versus a CDHP plan can be difficult. Our initiative empowers consumers to take responsibility and play an active role in their health by breaking down the complex selection process into more understandable components."

As part of the Consumer Education Initiative, URAC created a Health Care Communications Toolkit, which includes materials developed by The American Institutes for Research with funding from the California HealthCare Foundation. URAC updated and republished the materials, with permission from the organizations, to create several multi-media tools consumers can use to make better health care decisions, assume more "ownership" over their health care, and increase their ability to take on new behaviors to improve their health and the quality of care they receive.

For the toolkit, URAC assembled eight tip sheets covering three important topic areas: 1) Understanding the basics of health care quality and the importance of evidence-based information; 2) Tips for getting good quality care before, during, and after a health care appointment care; and 3) How to use the Internet to find health information consumers can trust. This last area is particularly important to URAC, as the organization offers a Health Web Site Accreditation that assures consumers that a company's Web site is trustworthy and meets URAC's demanding quality standards.

Consumers are not the only ones who can benefit from the URAC toolkit. It is a resource for purchaser-led health care coalitions as well. Groups, including the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) and the Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health (DFWBGH), host the toolkit on their Web site allowing employer members to access the materials and information online.

"Benefits managers are stretched thin these days and may not be able to spend as much time as they would like one-on-one with employees," said Marianne Fazen, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health and Vice Chair of URAC's Board of Directors. "By creating this Consumer Education initiative, URAC is helping take some of the burden off benefits managers, while making sure that consumers understand their health care choices and can make informed decisions."

To supplement the toolkit, URAC has also developed a free consumer eLearning course, "Understanding Your Health Insurance." The course covers key areas including defining health insurance concepts; identifying the impact of rising health care costs; comparing the different types of health insurance plans; and defining important elements of health insurance, including prescription coverage, case management, and wellness.

For additional information about URAC's Consumer Education Initiative and to download the Health Care Communications Toolkit, please visit www.urac.org/consumers/. A complete list of URAC's eLearning programs can be found here.

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation, education and measurement programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit www.urac.org.

SOURCE URAC


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