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Health Reform 101

with Lisa Zamosky

WebMD helps readers understand their health insurance and the new health care reform law. The Affordable Care Act is bringing sweeping changes to American health care. Lisa Zamosky is here to help you navigate the health care maze and understand how these changes affect you.


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Most Important Choice You Hate to Make

By Lisa Zamosky

Confused Woman

We’re entering the season of open enrollment for people who get their health benefits at work. That means once again, you’ll need to look over your insurance options and decide which plan will best suit the needs of you and your family, and at a price you can live with.

If you’re like most people, you find the process of choosing a health insurance plan daunting.

A new survey conducted by health insurer, Aetna, found that among 1,500 adults contacted by phone, most ranked the process of choosing health care benefits just behind saving for retirement as the most difficult major life decision they make. Buying a car, deciding which medical tests or treatments to take, parenting, and selecting other types of insurance were all deemed easier tasks than selecting health insurance, according to the Aetna Empowered Health Index Survey.

In addition:

  • 88% said they found the available information about health care benefits confusing
  • 84% said the information out there to explain their benefits conflicted
  • 83% said it’s tough to know which plan is right for them.

Maybe it’s because the subject of health insurance causes so much confusion that many people also reported not knowing how much money they spend on out-of-pocket health care expenses (43%).

And despite the fact that 75% said they believed that health reform is important for them and their families, more than four in ten (41%) claim to need more information to understand just how they’ll be impacted by the law.

More Control, Less Knowledge

Aside from making it clear that consumers need more help unraveling the details of health insurance, including how to choose a plan and how to most effectively use the benefits they have, it also points to a worrisome combination of forces.

As I discuss in this earlier post about upcoming insurance trends for 2013, employers are once again asking workers to take on more of the cost of their health benefits, and to take a more active role in their health care in order to both stay healthy and to help keep rising costs in check. It’s difficult to become an active participant in something you find extremely hard to understand.

What Confuses You?

I’ll be writing about open enrollment in the coming weeks, and covering topics that impact consumers no matter how they get their health insurance coverage – at work, on their own or through Medicare.

What information can I supply here on this blog that would help you to make the right decision about the health benefits you choose for next year?

Please share what aspects of choosing health insurance you find most difficult to understand, as well as any other comments and questions on the topic below.

Photo: iStockphoto

Posted by: Lisa Zamosky at 1:00 am


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