The Department of Health and Human Services expects by July 1 to launch a Web portal enabling consumers and small business to obtain insurance coverage information in their states.

Launching of the portal on July 1 is mandated under the health care reform law. HHS on May 5 published an interim final rule explaining how it will meet that deadline. The rule is effective on May 10 with a comment period through June 4. "This interim final rule adopts the categories of information that will be collected and displayed as Web portal content, and the data we will require from issuers and request from states, associations and high-risk pools in order to create this content," according to HHS.

To the extent possible, the federal Web portal will provide information, pertinent to a consumer's or small business's state, on coverage offered by private health insurers, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, high-risk pools and programs specifically for small businesses.

This information will include insurers, types of products, summaries of services offered, links to provider networks, contact information, eligibility criteria, coverage limitations and premiums. "In obtaining information to populate the Web portal, we will be seeking all the statutorily required information from issuers, and we anticipate adopting electronic submission capabilities," according to the interim final rule.

The federal Web portal will link to state portals as they become available. The interim final rule is available at

--Joseph Goedert


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