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A Perilous Gap in Health Insurance Literacy


Caption: This Nov. 29, 2013, file photo shows a part of the HealthCare.gov website. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File) Associated Press

Caption: This Nov. 29, 2013, file photo shows a part of the HealthCare.gov website. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File) Associated Press

The Wall Street Journal: Washington Wire
Sep 4, 2014 Think Tank

It’s not a news flash that health insurance can be complex and confusing. But the health insurance maze can be a problem, especially if you have never had health insurance before or have not had it for a long time. That’s the case for about half of the uninsured and for many people enrolling in the new insurance marketplaces set up under the Affordable Care Act.
Consider:

  • 37% of enrollees don’t know the amount of their deductible. The deductibles in the plans sold on the exchanges are large; on average $2,300 for single coverage in the most popular plan, a Silver plan.  For many people their deductible will be as important to their family budgets and their ability to get health care as the premium they pay, especially if they get a premium subsidy as most do in the exchanges. If people don’t understand their deductibles and copays they may pick a plan based solely on the premium and be in for a nasty surprise when they begin to use care and their deductible hits. It can also be important to know if services such as some physician visits and tests or generic drugs are exempt from the deductible.
  • Speaking of the subsidies, 46% of enrollees in the new insurance marketplaces say they’re getting a subsidy, when official numbers indicate about 85% actually get them.  And even among those who know they’re receiving a subsidy, 47% don’t know the amount of the subsidy. A political implication is that many people getting help from the ACA don’t know it.

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