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URAC Empowers Consumers’ Health Care Choices With New Consumer Education Initiative

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Program Helps Consumers Understand Health
Care Plans and Options

Washington, D.C., December 22, 2009 – 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.

“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 https://communicationtoolkit.aspx. A complete list of URAC’s eLearning programs can be found here.

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For 25 years, URAC has been the independent leader in promoting health care quality through accreditation, education, and measurement. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs that reflect the latest changes in health care and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to showcase their validated commitment to quality and accountability. URAC’s evidence-based measures and standards are developed through inclusive engagement with a broad range of stakeholders committed to improving the quality of health care.

For more information about URAC, contact us.

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