Most Americans Don't Understand Health Insurance, Study Finds


Many consumers in the U.S. don't understand traditional health insurance plans, according to a Journal of Health Economics study.

The study drew on two surveys of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 who had private health insurance and were the primary healthcare decision makers for themselves or their families. Of those surveyed, only 14 percent understood all of the four traditional insurance concepts of deductible, copay, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximums, according to research led by George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

These findings suggest that a greater selection of health insurance options under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act might not necessarily result in Americans making better choices about their healthcare, according to a Carnegie Mellon University news release.

However, when survey respondents were presented with a simplified health plan using only copays and no deductibles, they were somewhat more likely to make lower cost choices concerning issues such as whether to go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic for an earache.

Based on these findings, Mr. Loewenstein concluded health insurers should develop simplified insurance plan offerings to promote consumer understanding and less costly decision making.

More Articles on Health Insurance Plans:
Study: Poorer High-Deductible Plan Members May Skip Needed ED Care
5 Considerations for Hospitals Prepping for the Newly Insured
Bill Would Require Kaiser Permanente to Disclose Details on Rates, Spending 

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