What do health care consumers — and employees in particular — want from their coverage? What do they understand about it, and what don’t they? What frustrates them the most when they attempt to select health insurance?
These were key questions asked by the Healthcare Trends Institute in a survey of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health insurance. The institute, a nonprofit that offers a platform designed to bring clarity to the ever-changing benefits world, learned among other things that less than half of those surveyed are setting money aside to meet their future health care needs.
That may be the most startling finding: 42 percent of those queried are not creating a medical care savings nest egg. But other data should be of concern to corporate benefits managers as well.
For instance, when asked questions about the transparency and clarity of information related to their health insurance, far less than half felt they were getting clear answers. Only 36 percent said their health care benefit cost was presented with clarity and transparency by their employer, and only slightly more (39 percent) felt they could easily access financial information about their health insurance.
The survey found other significant disconnects in benefits knowledge. On the one hand, nearly 9 in 10 respondents said they were familiar with the workings of consumer-driven health plans. Yet despite clear advantages that many could derive from such coverage, only 24 percent said they are enrolled in such a plan.
Those surveyed generally reported feeling confused about the details of their benefits options and most said their employers were failing to properly present the information to them.
For instance, when asked to describe how well prepared they felt they were to manage the out-of-pocket payments they were responsible for, they said they thought they could handle about 55 percent of what they believed they would be required to pay.
Given that out-of-pocket responsibilities are rapidly shifting from employer to employee, that is not a healthy trend.
Although most employees today do not seem to have a grip on managing their dollars to meet medical needs, the survey found that they are generally pretty comfortable and confident with the concept of saving for retirement. Some 81 percent said they are saving for retirement, and 84 percent are making contributions to a retirement fund.
But given the looming medical costs they could face post-retirement, those dollars may wind up going to medical professionals rather than cruises in the Mediterranean.