This blog was originally posted on “Say Ahhh!” the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families blog.

HHS’s essential health benefits bulletin is less than two months old—in fact, the comment period just closed this week, click here for our comment letter—but some states are already planning for what it could mean for their residents.

The Bulletin indicates that states will be able to choose the core of their essential health benefits package by copying the benefits from one of ten existing health plans. That immediately raises the question—what do those ten plans cover? And which one would be best for kids, families, and all health insurance consumers?

Answering these questions will be complex, but a great way to start is to look at the ten plan choices side-by-side to compare what they cover. In Maine, the Department of Insurance has put together a helpful table that compares coverage across plans in some key benefit categories. It’s by no means a complete analysis, but it’s a great way to begin this important comparison.

Have you seen a similar document in your state? If not, it could be something to ask your state’s insurance regulator to put together. Of course, you’ll still want to make sure that the full plan documents that provide detailed coverage information are released publicly for each of the potential benchmarks before your state’s selection is made. But getting the plan comparison underway with a summary table like Maine’s can be a good way to get started—the Bulletin says states should choose their benchmark plans by the third quarter of this year.

— Joe Touschner Georgetown University Center for Children and Families