Study: Much Confusion Over Insurance Terms

Washington — Hundreds of thousands of Americans have spent the days leading up to Christmas trying to navigate the website — with varying degrees of success.

But even for those who successfully enrolled for insurance coverage, that’s only one big hurdle behind them. The next is understanding how their plan works. And that, new research suggests, will be a big challenge for the uninsured gaining coverage in the coming months and years.

Fewer than one in four uninsured Americans felt confident they understood nine basic insurance terms, such as “premium,” “coinsurance” and “maximum annual out-of-pocket” charges. For those who currently have coverage, that number hovered around 49 percent, with just fewer than half of those now holding policies feeling like they had a good handle on the terms.

Researchers found in this study, which relied on a sample of more than 7,000 non-elderly adults both with and without insurance, that many struggled with the basic health insurance terms.

Those with the most difficulty tended to be those who were bilingual or Spanish speakers, younger people and those with less than a high school education. While these groups had the lowest rates of understanding, that’s not to say that other demographics did great: Among those who were college graduates, just over half felt confident in understanding all nine terms.

This explains why there are efforts from some health insurers to explain the terms during open enrollment.

— The Washington Post