Nov 1, 2020 • 14M

Many Americans *with* health insurance skip care over cost fears; open enrollment starts today

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Bob Sullivan
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You're sick, and you pay for insurance, but you're still afraid to go to the doctor because of what it might cost. That's the reality for millions of Americans, suggests a new survey by Policygenius, an independent insurance marketplace and news site. Copays, deductibles, premiums...all these terms are still confusing to most Americans. This isn't some political football or a chance to score debate points. Health insurance illiteracy is a dangerous, potentially deadly problem in America.

As open enrollment for many 2021 health insurance plans begins today, I speak with Hanna Horvath, a data analyst at Policygenius, about the risks of not understanding your own health insurance.

A few points from the episode:

Even people who you’d consider well-off — earning $100,000 or more each year — often skip health care over coverage confusion.

From the study:

More than one in four people (27.2%) said uncertainty over their coverage had led them to avoid treatment. People making higher incomes were less likely to avoid care, but even among respondents making at least $100,000, nearly 20% said they had skipped treatment.

Politically-motivated misinformation has also contributed to a lot of confusion over Obamacare:

Only 5% of survey respondents could correctly identify basic Obamacare facts, including that you can get aid to buy a plan and there was no tax penalty for forgoing coverage. Almost 44% did not believe plans sold on covered legally required benefits like pediatric care or mental health care.

And, the main reason I send this note today: The vast majority of Americans are confused about when it’s time to shop for health insurance. That time is … today!

Nearly nine out of ten Americans (87%) could not identify the correct timing of open enrollment for, the federal government’s health exchange website, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 this year.

Open enrollment at most healthcare exchanges begins today. Many workers who get insurance through their employees can also begin the process of switching plans now. So, take a break from doomscrolling about the election and check out your options, wherever you obtain health insurance. Listen to this podcast while you shop.

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Also, VOTE!