Short Takes On News & Events

Survey: Americans Have Low Health Insurance Literacy

By Marissa Evans

August 29th, 2013, 4:35 PM

Premium, deductible, copay, all basic health insurance terms many Americans don’t understand, according to a recent poll.

More than half could not correctly define at least one of these common financial terms related to health insurance, according to poll results released by the American Institute of CPAs.

Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, said the struggling economy and on-going unemployment have distracted consumers’ attention from health care specifics. But, he says that’s still no excuse because understanding health insurance terminology “could help you make prudent decisions regarding your finances.”

“(People) only think about the copay when they do their prescription, but they don’t realize it could be $100 or $200 being taken out of their pay stub for health insurance premiums,” Almonte said. “It effects their everyday budget.”

The poll found knowledge of the terms increased with education level.  Those with high school diplomas or less education were significantly more likely than those with college education to miss one of the terms given in the poll.

The survey also explored understanding and awareness of the health law, finding that 41 percent of respondents described themselves as not at all knowledgeable, while another 48 percent identified as being somewhat knowledgeable.

The telephone survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Institute of CPAs, surveyed 1,008 adults between July 26 and July 29 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

11 Responses to “Survey: Americans Have Low Health Insurance Literacy”

  1. Ozzie says:

    Americans have low health insurance literacy? Sounds like a Republican utopia. There’s nothing Republicans like better than keeping women barefoot and pregnant and keeping men from getting past the 6th grade. That’s how Republicans keep getting reelected in states like Georgia and South Carolina and Alabama and Mississippi and Kentucky. Republicans love an illiterate constituency.

  2. It's Not Easy says:

    Ozzie – chill out.

    I have been administering employee benefits for over 20 years, we provide an annual review of our plan. Some employees (not all, not even most, but some), after setting through this training year after year, still get confused about co-pays and deductibles.

    Keeping your audience stupid may work in the short term, but most businesses (read GOP) need smart, not illiterate people. Don’t hyperventilate over some scary GOP, learn for yourself, then teach your fellow citizen to understand healthcare.

    I try real hard to do this, even after the training, if an employee still doesn’t understand, I don’t blame the “Republicans” . I take the opportunity to teach – regardless of that persons political preference.

    For goodness sake, chill out.

  3. James says:

    Ozzie, Do you remember the Democratic representative from Georgia? Hank Johnson? The one who thought that Guam would tip into the ocean if too many Marines were on one side of the island? And later badly tried to cover by blaming the comments on his deadpan humor?
    Unless you believe that Hank Johnson is a Republican in disguise, one that does a remarkably good job of voting along Democratic lines every time.
    I am Republican and my family was financially more secure when my wife worked, unfortunately she had to stop after we had a child because the cost of care didn’t make up for the amount she was earning. I wish she could go back to work, but we haven’t been able to find a place for her to work that makes enough for the cost of caring for our child to be worth it.
    I graduated from college, in a predominantly Democratic university that constantly tried to force me through multiple methods to join every gay pride parade, women’s reproductive rights protests, and down with Christian’s rally’s.
    They had a remarkable ability to be inclusive of everyone except those who didn’t believe the way they did. At which point then they reviled and harangued until the person either died or graduated. I never had a moments peace. So thank you for continuing the Democratic hailstorm of criticism.

  4. Scott says:

    James, your response is laughable. With a recent comment from Dan Rohrbacher, a Republican from California claiming that Dinosaur farts are the cause of Global Warming, the issue of idiocy is pretty well established within the Republican party (Heck, your party NOMINATED a Presidential Candidate that thought she could see Russia from her house). Both parties have a vested interest in projecting their views – the Republicans just do a much better job at Alienating everyone – blacks, gays, women, the young, Hispanics. But we’d like you to keep the status quo – please nominate Sarah for President in 2016.

  5. anna says:

    “Keeping your audience stupid may work in the short term, but most businesses (read GOP) need smart, not illiterate people.”

    Obviously you don’t understand business in the deep south, do you? Take Texas for example, where 1 in 4 residents are uninsured. Do you think that’s by accident, or by design? Texas pols are proud to be ranked at the top when it comes to having the least number of residents with health insurance.

  6. anna says:

    “I am Republican and my family was financially more secure when my wife worked, unfortunately she had to stop after we had a child because the cost of care didn’t make up for the amount she was earning.”

    In 2011, women working full-time earned about 77 cents for each dollar that a man earned, according to data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s because, as Ozzie states, Republicans want to keep women barefoot and pregnant while Obama/Democrats support the Equal Pay Act. If you love the Republican Party so much, then stop complaining that your wife can’t find a job that pays a fair wage. You graduated from a predominantly Democratic university? A progressive institute of higher learning? A university that supports the notion of equal pay for equal work? You would think, at such a progressive school, they might have told you that Republicans are vehemently against the Equal Pay Act. Republicans have never supported women in the work place.

  7. anna says:

    In the same way that Republicans do not support civil rights and equal pay for women in the work place, while many were invited, not one Republican official showed up at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to commemorate the struggle for civil rights in the United States. That’s the Republican Party that you seem to love so much!

  8. Jack says:

    Sadly, poor literacy in health care is consistent with poor literacy in many other areas. It isn’t the fault of Democrats or Republicans, but rather the result of a failing or in many places failed educational system. We’ve pretty much given up our pre-eminence in educational achievement across the board, so this finding is consistent with a larger, disturbing trend.

  9. anna says:

    Oh, now I get it. Republicans and Democrats have nothing to do with our failed education system, right?

  10. marie says:

    Fact: Our failed education system, just like our failed healthcare system, has “everything” to do with Democrats and Republicans. Today, we see a failed Congress. How can you expect any education policy or healthcare policy from a gridlocked government.

  11. Richard says:

    The ‘Us’ vs ‘Them’ comments on virtually every ‘news’ story I see suggests that the stalemate between the 2 major political parties is reflective of a polarized populace, not just the politicians. Taking sides seems to be a pretty futile endeavor. As Jack states; ‘poor literacy exists in many areas’ and it goes beyond politics. To blame one party or the other for every social problem we have does little more than propagate the political stalemate. Ozzie and all of us should follow the lead of ‘It’s Not Easy’ and first, chill out. Second, try to be part of the solution instead of pointing fingers at whichever party we’re not part of. Any comments that don’t address raising awareness among Americans about health insurance are superfluous. – An Independent