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New research shows just how hard it is for consumers to understand their insurance options

On November 16, The Palm Beach Post reported on new research that examines why it's so hard for consumers to understand key differences between health plans.

It’s open enrollment season again, which means that employees across the country are assessing the insurance options offered by their employers and trying to understand which plan will offer the most value for their hard-earned dollars. With the ongoing pandemic and resulting economic recession in play, this year making the right benefits selection seems all the more urgent. But do consumers have the information and understanding they need to make truly informed choices? New research out of the University of Dayton suggests that they don’t. Hypothesizing that the number of choices was a core driver of confusion in selecting an insurance plan, the researchers set up a simplified scenario where the 2,300 employees surveyed were given just two choices—in fact, the plans were identical in every way but cost. Nevertheless, almost a quarter of employees chose a substantially more expensive plan (think $2,000 or more). With 180 million Americans relying on employer-sponsored health insurance, this finding is alarming. Researchers suggest, and we tend to agree, that what employees really need are better search and analysis tools to guide them through plan selection—and who better to develop and deploy these tools than the payors who offer the plans? In fact, our primary question is why these tools don’t exist already. We suspect it’s because saving members money isn’t actually the primary concern of many health plans.

Original Article:

SUBSCRIBE NOW99¢ for the first monthSUBSCRIBE NOW99¢ for the first monthNews Sports Entertainment Lifestyle Opinion USA TODAY Obituaries E-Edition Legals Subscribe COLUMNSPoint of View: Choosing health insurance is so complicated, 23% of workers with only two choices picked the worse onePalm Beach PostAlmost a quarter of employees faced with the choice of two employer-sponsored health care plans picked the one that left them worse off financially, even though they offered the same non-cost benefits, according to new unpublished research conducted by the University of Dayton. Using data from a large university in the Midwest that offered to subsidize one of two health care plans, we wanted to see how hard it is for people to make the better choice when given only two options. The plans were identical in every respect other than their costs. One plan had much higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments for the employee.

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