We can all agree that our healthcare system is difficult to understand. Have you considered the confusion for people who have never had health insurance, or perhaps have not had it for a really long time? According to Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance literacy is something that we as a society should work to improve. Here are some key points regarding the new insurance marketplace and ACA that Altman asks us to consider:
- 37% of enrollees don’t know the amount of their deductible
- only 46% of enrollees say they are getting a subsidy, when the official numbers indicate 85% are actually getting them
- many enrolled have no understanding of basic insurance terms like premium, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, maximum annual out-of-pocket spending, provider network, covered services, annual limits on services or excluded services
- people with lower incomes are less likely to understand the key elements of insurance (the people who need coverage the most understand it the least)
Altman also points out that people gaining new coverage are also expected to understand the intricacies of provider networks in the plans they choose, particularly if they have a health problem requiring specialty care. Otherwise, they’ll face high out-of-pocket costs when they visit out of network provider specialists. Understanding how drug coverage works is also important when dealing with tiers. Most of us understand that brand-name drugs cost much more than generics — but what about the folks who don’t know that? We all have a role to play to improve health insurance literacy. Unfortunately, as Altman points out in his article that appeared recently on WSJ’s Washington Wire, A Perilous Gap in Health Insurance Literacy, many of us get tested on our knowledge every time we access our health care plan.
Here are two info graphics that can help you get started with improving the health insurance literacy of the people you know: