Over the last three years the message of the Health Data Initiative has been consistent – liberate data and entrepreneurs and developers will take the data and enhance it through development and innovation. We at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have seen an increase in application development using open health data since the inception of the Health Data Initiative, but we would be hard pressed to find an application that has to potential to reach a greater audience as the U.S. News & World Report’s new web application, Best Health Insurance Plans.
Best Health Insurance Plans is a new web application that leverages HHS’s Healthcare Finder API. The Healthcare Finder data set includes state public insurance options, individual and family health insurance options, and small group insurance options. Currently, health care consumers can use Healthcare.gov to search for health insurance options but Best Health Insurance Plans enhances the data and increase functionality with their application allowing consumers to rate and rank plans against each other. Best Health Insurance Plans takes existing health plan data and does two extremely important things:
- It enhances the data by adding new features, rating of plans based on their scope of coverage and separate comparisons for monthly premiums. Both new features will help consumers make informed decisions when enrolling in health insurance.
- It brings health insurance information to a new audience who may not go to healthcare.gov for their health insurance needs; resulting in more people receiving important information about the health insurance options in their area.
When asked why U.S. News and World Report developed the application, Steve Sternberg, Deputy Health Rankings Editor for U.S. News and World Report, said, “We created Best Health Insurance plans to try to make it easier for people who aren’t eligible for group or government insurance to select an individual health insurance. These plans are sold directly to consumers, who may buy directly from an insurance company or through a broker. It isn’t easy to make an informed choice, because the plans aren’t standardized, the cost structure is difficult to penetrate and the benefits can vary dramatically from one plan to another.”
In addition to developing this new application, U.S. News & World Report conducted an extensive analysis of nearly 6,000 health insurance plans marketed to individuals and families. More information on that analysis can be found here. Like the other applications featured on HealthData.gov, U.S. News & World Report, has illustrated the intent of the Health Data Initiative through the development of a new, consumer-helpful application.