The Health-Care Industry’s Relationship Problems

Distrust is also a barrier to a closer relationship. An annual Harris Poll of more than two thousand American adults on perceptions of industry trustworthiness has found, year after year, that health insurance is one of the least trusted industries (tobacco and oil are the only ones to consistently rank lower).

Illustration by Justin Renteria

Illustration by Justin Renteria

New York Times, October 28, 2015
by Rena Xu

When I became a doctor, last year, I had to sign up for health insurance. The hospital where I work offered two primary options, a Value plan and a Plus plan. One cost less up front, while the other promised more benefits. I didn’t know which to choose; after factoring in co-pays, deductibles, and variations in coverage across networks of doctors, it wasn’t clear which would be more economical. Ultimately, I enrolled in the Plus plan, the product of guesswork more than reason.

At the start of November, the open-enrollment period for plans on U.S. health-insurance exchanges will begin, and millions of Americans will face a similar struggle. As consumers, we’re accustomed to making informed choices about what food to eat, what car to drive, what school to attend. But health insurance is a striking exception. Only one in seven Americans understands the basic components of a health-insurance plan, according to a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Health Economics. That means most of us are signing up without knowing what we’re getting or what it’s worth.