Workers Flounder with Health Care Decision
By Editorial Staff
Open enrollment deadlines are just around the corner, and a new survey suggests the choices aren’t getting any easier for many workers.
According to a report from Aetna, Americans rank choosing health care benefits as the second most difficult life decision, behind only saving for retirement. Aetna’s survey shows those who stress over health benefits decisions cite confusing and complicated information (88%), conflicted data (84%) and difficulty knowing which plan is right for them (83%).
“The … results showed that consumers understand the importance of health benefits. However, they don’t feel they have the resources they need to make an educated decision,” says Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna’s chairman and CEO “We need to make the process of choosing and using health benefits easier for consumers.”
Conducted in July with results released last week, the survey finds Americans split on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, though 75% think that all of its key elements are important for them or their families. Forty-one percent of respondents said they need more information on health care reform to understand its impact.
Reducing medical costs remains a major economic and political issue, even though 42% of Americans reportedly never or rarely monitor out-of-pocket health care expenses. This is despite the fact that more than one in five respondents had to dip into their savings in the past year to help cover medical bills.
The survey further finds that more than 40% of respondents have skipped a prescription dose, halted their medication or delayed a needed medical procedure. What’s worse, those in fair or poor health (76%) or with chronic conditions (57%) are the most likely to engage in those dangerous behaviors.
Wendy Shanahan-Richards, national medical director for Aetna, says the survey illustrates the need for health plans data to walk the line between concise and digestible and thorough and comprehensive information.
“The [survey] results help us better understand the challenges that consumers are facing today,” Shanahan-Richards says. “We want to arm consumers with as much useful, easy-to-understand information as possible to help them make more informed health benefits choices and take better control of their health.”