U.S. News & World Report ranks health insurance plans

For the first time, U.S. News and World Report has rated health insurance plans in order to help individuals and families shop for coverage, according to a press release.

The rankings rate only insurance plans which are sold directly to consumers, which are different than health insurance offered through groups such as employers.  To rate the plans, U.S. News examined the the scope of coverage, which includes the benefits such as how much an insured person pays for prescription drugs, hospitalizations, and other products and services. U.S. News also looked at cost, specifically the monthly premium a consumer must pay to maintain coverage.

Each plan was given a U.S. News Rating of one to five stars, a one-star rating generally denotes a plan that either doesn’t cover many products and services or covers only a modest fraction of the costs consumers might incur for them. A five-star plan generally covers a broader array of products and services and pays a higher percentage of total costs.

Users may search the site for insurance plans by state.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, August 9, 2012; U.S. News & World Report, http://health.usnews.com, August 2012)