From the October 2013 issue of Benefits Selling Magazine •Subscribe!

Half of Americans can’t define basic health insurance terms

What’s a premium again?

Forget about PPACA. Americans have a lot of questions about the basics of health insurance.

A new survey of 1,008 U.S. adults conducted for the American Institute of CPAs by Harris Interactive found that more than half (51 percent) could not accurately identify at least one of three common health insurance terms: premium, deductible and copay.

A third (34 percent) thought a premium was an expense at the time of receiving medical service or a prescription; more than a quarter (27 percent) thought a copay was the cost of obtaining insurance; and 12 percent did not know a deductible is the money one pays before an insurance company makes payments.

“Half of Americans would fail health insurance 101,” said Ernie Almonte, chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission. “That’s critical insight as consumers prepare to make important decisions with implications for both their physical and fiscal well-being. Americans need to take time in the coming weeks to familiarize themselves with key terms and assess their needs so they make the best decisions for their health and financial situations.”

Not surprisingly, just as consumers struggled with basic health insurance information, the majority of Americans were unaware of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its implications.

Forty-one percent said they are not at all knowledgeable about the law and another 48 percent said they were only somewhat knowledgeable. Young people were the least knowledgeable, with nearly half (48 percent) of adults aged 18 to 34 saying they had no knowledge.

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