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Most Americans fail health insurance IQ test Posted: August 18th, 2013

By Maryalene LaPonsie

Health insurance can be a confusing subject for most consumers. That was especially evident when industry group LIMRA published the results of a health insurance IQ test it administered to 2,000 Americans.

The true/false questionnaire stumped most of those taking the 10 question test, with 80 percent of respondents getting five or fewer answers correct. Only 10 percent were able to answer seven or more questions correctly, and no one aced the test by getting all the answers right.

Lack of knowledge concerning for uninsured

LIMRA found those without health insurance coverage scored an average of less than three correct answers on the quiz. That finding may be particularly troublesome since many of these individuals will be buying health insurance for the first time next year.

In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will require virtually all U.S. residents to have health insurance coverage. For those currently uninsured, that may mean purchasing medical insurance on health insurance exchanges set up by the government.

However, in a survey, LIMRA found only 14 percent of consumers understand how the exchanges will work. In addition, less than 10 percent of those who are uninsured understand what types of health insurance plans may be available to them.

Medical insurance costs misunderstood

The price of medical insurance is one of the most important factors for consumers when weighing coverage options. Among the uninsured, 60 percent say the cost is their top criteria when buying health insurance.

Price may be important, but many consumers fail to understand how health insurance plans pass on costs to policyholders. Only 15 percent of those surveyed by LIMRA correctly identified how plan deductibles work, and more than 50 percent thought a plan with higher premiums and a lower deductible meant they would pay less on a monthly basis when in fact, higher premiums mean higher monthly costs.

As 2014 approaches, some non-profit groups have undertaken educational campaigns to help consumers understand health insurance basics. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided additional funding for 1,200 health centers nationwide to help individuals and families navigate their health insurance options. As for LIMRA, it says the insurance industry and brokers are available to help too.

"Our survey confirms that consumers need help determining what types of coverage are available and what they should buy to best meet their need," said Anita Potter, assistant vice president of LIMRA Insurance Research, in a written statement. "Our industry can help by engaging and educating consumers now - so when they ultimately choose their health care insurance, it is done prudently."

Those who want to test their own health insurance IQ can do so on the LIMRA website.