To opt-in to receive SPD changes electronically, click here.
The Summary Plan Description (SPD) sets forth the details of the health plan’s design. Typically, it is a technical document, written in legally-required language. In the past, the SPD has been viewed solely as a detailed reference document, designed to summarize the workings of the health plan. Past versions have been weighted more to legal and technical requirements rather than to usability. This SPD is different.
Because the SPD is such an important document, in addition to being accurate, we feel it must be understandable. While there are technical requirements, legal language, and federal regulations governing what goes into the SPD, this new version attempts to use accessible, commonly used language and terms wherever possible. Where there are complex policy details we have sought to elucidate them by providing examples. In addition, there are “call-outs” throughout this new SPD. These are brightly colored areas to the side of important content that summarizes the essential takeaway of a health plan component.
Previous versions of the SPD were designed to be primarily a paper document. This new SPD is different. Its primary design is focused on web-based delivery of content. This means there are links, easy navigation, and pop-up, one-click definitions throughout. And if you need to print pages for some reason, you can do that, too. The online version is flexible: it lets you print the entire document, specific pages, whatever you need, whenever you like.
In addition, this SPD is going to be a “live” document. What that means is that as changes are made to the health plan, while paper-based notifications can and will be mailed out, the online document will simply have the new content, and it will be updated in advance of anything that can be accomplished with paper. If you’re using the web-based SPD, you’ll know about changes first. The web-based SPD will always have the most up-to-date information.
We want the new SPD to be a “live” document. We want to improve it throughout its life, and one way we can do this is by listening. Participants call in for help with health plan issues every day. As we discern “problem areas”, health plan benefits that aren’t properly used, or are often misused or underused, we will add commentary into the appropriate section of the SPD. As a user, you will see that certain places in the SPD are highlighted. If you click on this highlighted section, a more detailed explanation will pop up. In this way, we hope to continually improve the SPD and make it a better tool for our Participants.
In addition to paying attention to the day-to-day problems of Participants and addressing those with commentary in the SPD, we encourage Participants to contact us if there are areas that they think can be better explained. We will try to implement pop-ups for these issues. In this way, Participants can help make this the most useful SPD ever.
If this sounds like an exciting solution to you – and we hope it does – we ask that you opt-in for electronic delivery. The PWGA spends hundreds of thousands of dollars mailing paper versions of the SPD to all our Participants. By law, we have to provide you with either a copy – electronic or paper. By opting-in to electronic delivery, Participants will not only get the latest most technically capable document available, but they will save the Health Plan money, making it possible to use those funds on benefits rather than publishing costs.
If you are unhappy with the electronic version for any reason, you can simply request a return to paper delivery with a few clicks of the mouse. But we hope not. To paraphrase from Casablanca*, “We hope this will be the start of a beautiful relationship.”
To view the SPD, click here.
*(Written by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, based on the Play, “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison)