Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archive print banner

AHCPR/HIAA Help Consumers Choose and Use Health Plans

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Press Release Date: March 27, 1997

Information released today in print and on the Internet will help consumers choose a health care insurance plan that best meets their needs and help them get the most from their plan.

Choosing and Using a Health Plan was developed through a partnership with the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Insurance Association of America (HIAA).

"AHCPR is pleased to join with HIAA in providing information consumers need to help make sense of their increasingly complex choices in health care insurance," said Lisa Simpson, M.B., B.Ch., Acting Administrator of AHCPR.

"Typically, people know that health insurance is important and that they need it, but all too often they may be confused by the wide variety of coverages," said HIAA President Bill Gradison. "This new guide provides clear, concise information that will enable consumers to choose the coverage that is best for their needs."

Choosing and Using a Health Plan was developed for consumers who have a choice of health plans and those who already are in a plan. "Whether or not you are able to choose your own health plan, it is important to understand what kind of protection your plan provides and what you need to do to get the health care you and your family need," Dr. Simpson said.

The guide stresses the importance of knowing the "basics" when choosing and using a health plan. When comparing plans, this includes considering the services offered, choice of providers, location, costs and quality.

"There are different plans to meet the different needs of consumers," said Gradison. "Our new guide will help people learn about these differences and decide which coverage options are most important to them."

For those already in a plan, the guide offers tips to help consumers learn how to obtain care, how to understand the plan's hospitalization rules, and steps to take if not satisfied with their care. Consumers also are encouraged to stay informed about their policy and to take charge and keep track of their health care.

AHCPR is the lead Federal agency charged with supporting research designed to improve the quality of health care, reduce its cost and broaden access to essential services.

HIAA is a National trade association whose more than 250 members are insurers and managed care companies that serve tens of millions of Americans.

Up to 50 free print copies of the guide are available from AHCPR by calling its toll-free clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295, or by writing to: AHCPR Publications Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907. Specify AHCPR publication number 97-0011.

Up to 5,000 print copies of the guide are available from HIAA by calling its toll-free clearinghouse at 1-888-844-2782.

A Spanish-language version of the guide will be available later this year.

For additional information, contact AHCPR Public Affairs: Salina Prasad, (301) 427-1864 (; or contact HIAA's Richard Coorsh at (202) 824-1787.

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care