Research Shows That Americans Still Have Low Health Insurance Literacy
One would think that in 2020, of all the years, healthcare would have been top of mind of the American healthcare consumer. Perhaps it was, as people became familiar with epidemiological terms like herd immunity, flattening the curve, and non-pharmaceutical interventions. However, it is apparent that the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t lead to improvement in patient literacy in healthcare finance, specifically related to health insurance.
The share of Americans without health insurance has been cut in half since 2013. Many reforms instituted by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 were designed to extend health care coverage to those without it; however, high-cost growth continues unabated. National health expenditures are projected to grow 4.7% annually per person from 2016 to 2025. Public healthcare spending was 29% of federally mandated spending in 1990 and 35% in 2000. It is also projected to be roughly half in 2025.
How Does the US Health System Work?
Healthcare in the United States is organized in a complex bureaucracy. While in the rest of the world, healthcare facilities are owned mostly by governments or by private sector businesses, in the US a large share of hospitals and clinics are owned by private non-profit organizations.
Yet, the United States is the country that has the highest healthcare expenditures in the world. While these expenditures are covered in a large share by public payers like federal institutions or State and local governments, they can also be covered by private insurance and individual payments.
At the same time, unlike most developed nations, the US health system does not provide health care to its entire population. As there is no single nationwide health insurance system, the United States primarily relies on employers who voluntarily provide health insurance coverage to their employees and dependents.
In addition, the government has programs that tend to cover healthcare expenses for the fragile parts of society as the elderly, disabled, and the poor. These programs differ from one another, and all have a specific kind of people that are subjects. Getting health insurance in the US is not an easy thing. Someone may think that once you have money everything is easy, but in reality, things are a bit more complicated. One must be very careful and look out to pick the right insurance.
Low health insurance literacy
Two-thirds of Americans can’t correctly define concepts such as healthcare insurance premiums, co-payments, and deductibles. And, a majority of Americans aren’t familiar with basic elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as when the open enrollment period is if there is a tax penalty for a foregoing coverage, and whether health plans must enroll those with pre-existing conditions.
This is not because consumers or patients don’t have sophisticated ways to connect with all the various elements and players in the U.S. healthcare system. But all that information at their fingertips isn’t doing much to help them understand and navigate the highly complex healthcare system.
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