A national survey of the nation’s knowledge of health insurance like Obamacare has found “wide gaps” in Americans' literacy despite a $1 billion education campaign, with the public unable to answer basic questions like how much they owe for a routine doctor’s visit.
The authoritative American Institutes for Research study, coming on the eve of open enrollment for Obamacare, found that most people think they know more about healthcare and health insurance than actually they do, a miserable result considering last year’s taxpayer-funded federal marketing blitz to be followed by another this year.
AIR’s survey of 828 people ages 22-64 also found that younger Americans were the most confused —and they were the focus of the ad campaign and the most likely to use the health insurance marketplace set up under Obamacare.
A question about out-of-pocket costs provides a look into how dizzy the nation is about health insurance:
Early in January, Robert visits an in-network doctor to get a wart removed from his foot. The bill for this visit is $530, which is the member rate the doctor agreed to charge his health plan for that service. Robert has a $30 co-pay, a $100 deductible, and 20% coinsurance that apply for this visit. His co-pay does not count toward the deductible. How much will Robert pay for the visit?
° Not sure
Only 20.6 percent got it right: $210.
[Here is the math: Subtract the deductible and co-pay first. $530-$100-$30 = $400. Then calculate coinsurance 20 percent of $400 = $80. Then calculate what the consumer owes $80+100+30= $210.]
Other key findings:
— About half could identify general characteristics of a health maintenance organization, and 23 percent could identify the characteristics of a PPO.
— When comparing insurance plans, 42 percent were not at all or only somewhat likely to check what a plan will and will not cover before getting health services.
— Generally, younger people were less health insurance literate. For example, on average those aged 22 to 34 correctly answered 55 percent of the knowledge and skills items on the survey, compared with 63 percent of 55- to 64-year olds.
“Younger people, those who use health care less frequently, minorities, people with lower incomes and those with less education have less knowledge about health insurance because all of these groups are more likely to be uninsured,” said study co-author Kathryn A. Paez. “And, they are the people most likely to use the health insurance marketplaces.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.