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BizReport : Research archives : January 23, 2015

Study: Americans don't understand their health plan

It turns out a growing number of Americans aren't seeing their doctors because they don't understand what is - and more importantly what isn't - covered by their health plan. That is the takeaway from a new Harris Poll. The report also found one-fifth didn't see their doctor for a 'general health concern' because they were afraid of the costs.

by Kristina Knight

The poll was conducted on behalf of SCIO Health Analytics. Researchers found more than 117 million Americans, nearly half, are suffering from some kind of chronic health issue; about 14% of those have not seen their doctor for that condition because they are afraid of what it will cost.

"These findings are particularly relevant at this time as millions of Americans are once again deciding their annual healthcare benefit options through Open Enrollment," said Siva Namasivayam, CEO, SCIO Health Analytics. "While Americans are spending more time researching health plans, the survey reveals a significant knowledge gap in the specifics of their health care options that may eventually lead to unnecessary risks and costs."

According to experts the costs associated with people not seeing doctors for these problems could be over $200 billion. Some interesting takeaways from the report include:

• 41% say they've spent more time researching insurance plans/coverage
• 60% report they 'don't have a better' understanding of healthcare despite media coverage
• 44% of those insured don't know out of pocket costs or co-pays for prescriptions
• 61% of those insured don't know walk-in clinic/urgent care visit costs

"It's like buying a car without a manual or taking a test drive. You are left somewhat disoriented in the driver's seat," said Dave Hom, Chief Solutions and Business Development Officer at SCIO Health Analytics. "Health insurance companies need to adopt customized solutions based on big data to understand and reach these new members. Through the use of segmentation and consumer data such as medical literacy, communication preferences and geographic access to care, companies can find the most effective channels and messages to educate members on coverage, costs, and how to get the care they need."

The full study results can be found here.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: doctors, health trends, insurance plans, SCIO Health Analytics

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