Empowering and Protecting Consumers: ERISA Thwarts State Innovation

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As the national debate over the ACA continues, this publication  looks at why Congress needs to amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to assure consumers and payers have the information they need to make health purchasing decisions. The considerable discussion of increasing consumer engagement, in part by expanding the use of health savings accounts and high deductible health plans as strategies to provide consumers more choices and to reduce health care costs, requires informed consumers and payers. States have pursued an array of policies to improve transparency in health care. While transparency laws are not a silver bullet to reign in health care costs, they are necessary components for consumer protection and for states to understand their own health care markets. Despite robust and valuable state innovation in health care transparency, ERISA often prevents these state laws from meeting their full potential. This publication is the latest in a series that puts a state lens on emerging proposals in the ACA repeal and replace debate. 

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Support for this work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.