Many Americans lack an understanding of health insurance: Report

A study alarmingly discovered that a good number of individuals do not know much about health insurance and its workings

Life & Health

By Lyle Adriano

A study recently conducted by the American Institutes for Research found that many people possess low health insurance literacy. Health insurance literacy refers to a consumer’s capacity to find, choose, and effectively use the right health plan.

“People will come in and think that they have it down, and they really don’t, and then you have people who admittedly just have no idea walking into it,” commented Northwest Missouri Area Agency on Aging federally certified marketplace navigator Tyler Graff. “Some individuals we help, before the Affordable Care Act, had not had access to insurance for 20, 25 years or longer. They come in and they don’t know even the simplest thing, like what a deductible is, things that a lot of people take for granted.”

The same report also noted that although consumers often think that they know more about health insurance than they actually do, less than half of consumers review a plan’s details before signing up.

“That does hinder their ability to pick a plan because a lot of times all they are seeing is the price of the plan,” Graff told “They want whatever is cheapest without understanding that plan, if you actually go and use it, is actually going to end up costing you more in the long run.”

Graff additionally remarked that by understanding their health insurance policies, consumers can keep their preferred caregivers, reduce unplanned medical costs, and fully utilize their policies for their care needs.

“Health insurance is still pretty complicated,” said Enroll America, Best Practices Institute deputy director Sophie Stern. “It is really important that people are aware of the resources that are available to them in the community. We know that in-person help and making sure that people get the help they need is absolutely critical.”

A total of 33 million people lacked health insurance as of 2014—this figure includes non-citizen immigrants, young adults aged 19 to 34, and those who lie within the so-called “Medicaid gap.” In 2014, 17.1% of people aged 19-25 years old and 18.2% of people aged 26-34 years old were uninsured.

Related stories:
Obamacare is “very near collapse,” insurance commissioner says
Carrier exits from Texas ACA marketplace deal crippling blows to the state

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