Key demographics lack health literacy, risk not receiving care
President Obama has suggested that shopping for health insurance on Healthcare.gov would be like purchasing plane tickets--fast and easy--notes a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article.
But for many Americans, purchasing health insurance is anything but. Confusing terms cloud the process--particularly for young, low-income and less-educated consumers, according to a recent survey from American Institutes for Research (AIR).
Consumers still lack answers to the most basic questions, noted Businessweek. Many are unsure if their doctor will take their insurance plan, for example, or if they will have to pay for medications, the survey found.
AIR asked 800 survey participants to define terms such as "premium" and "medically necessary," and to identify the general characteristics of an HMO or PPO.
Young adults (ages 22 to 34) answered these questions correctly 55 percent of the time, compared to 64 percent of adults ages 55 to 64. Individuals who reported making less than $25,000 a year answered 45 percent of questions correctly, while those earning more than $75,000 annually answered correctly 67 percent of the time. Finally, respondents with a bachelor's degree or higher answered 68 percent of questions correctly, while those with less than a high school degree answered 32 percent of the items correctly.
What's more, prior to open enrollment beginning last Saturday, an estimated 54 million Americans remained uninsured. Explaining healthcare lingo to these consumers--many of whom fall into the young, low-income or less-educated demographics--is as important than ever.
To do this, public outreach and education must improve. That's why many insurers are dedicating time and resources to improve healthcare literacy and ease member confusion.