Health Insurance literacy: is it an issue?

Even for people who work in the insurance industry, understanding health insurance is a challenging task.  The terms, benefits, and system itself are sometimes challenging and a majority of people I speak with or those who send me an email – have a question about their Health Care insurance.  Which makes me wonder “what is the health insurance literacy: is it an issue?”

In my personal experience, there were and continue to be times when I cannot completely understand the various different ways a health insurance policy can interact. I am always looking at my Explanation of Benefits summaries to learn more.

It took time, research, phone calls with health insurance professionals to understand various co-pays, deductibles, out of pocket maximums, what is considered preventative and/or regular covered visits vs. specialty visits.

I am willing to bet, I am not alone.  Actually PolicyGenius conducted a survey to answer the question.

Policy Genius

Policy Genius, a multi-product digital insurance platform, recently surveyed more than 2,000 nationwide health insurance consumers in partnership with Radius Research.

The Survey:

The survey uncovered the health insurance literacy levels of consumers who are shopping for health insurance during the 2017 open enrollment season, including their overall confidence level and understanding of insurance terminology and plans. The survey found a 25% gap between consumers’ perceived and actual knowledge of these key health insurance terms: “deductible”, “co-pay”, “coinsurance” and “out-of-pocket maximum.”

Survey results:

The PolicyGenius health insurance literacy survey indicated:

  • Most insured Americans are satisfied with their current plan, at 70% of total respondents.
  • People who used their health insurance 2-3 times in the past year are 12% more likely to be satisfied with their plan than those who used it just once.
  • Millennials are most likely to be satisfied with their health insurance plan, at 77%.
  • There is no variation in plan satisfaction between those who have individual insurance versus employer-provided insurance.
  • More than half of respondents aren’t very confident in their ability to choose the best health insurance plan for their needs.
  • Only one-third of women overall are “very confident” in their ability to choose the best health insurance plan for their needs.
  • The two groups that showed the highest confidence in their ability to choose the best plan were men at 58% and millennials at 43%.
  • The survey found higher confidence levels in men over women (12% difference) and younger vs older respondents (millennials were most confident at 43%, 10% more than ages 45-55) in their ability to choose the best plan.

The study of 2,022 respondents was conducted online from September 30 to October 6, 2016 and focused on ten U.S. markets to evaluate consumer knowledge about health insurance. Participants were the sole or collaborative decision maker of their health insurance decisions and have used their policy within the last year.


Although the survey suggests some positive results, the most glaring for me is:

  • More than half of respondents aren’t very confident in their ability to choose the best health insurance plan for their needs.

Our readers should spend time at InsuranceShark focusing on growing their health insurance knowledge and understanding their coverage, we are committed to help.

As everyone knows, it is easy to be satisfied with your insurance product, until you have an uncovered claim that you thought you were covered for…then satisfaction levels drop off a cliff.  Let’s close the knowledge gap together.

We will have regular and guest posts in this area to help readers learn more as Open Enrollment season approaches.

About the author

Arnold Smith

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