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Health reform shines a spotlight on medical insurance benefits Posted: September 30th, 2010

By Maryalene LaPonsie

While more people are paying attention to their medical coverage, a significant number of U.S. workers have difficulty understanding their health insurance benefits. That's according to a recently released survey by UnitedHealthcare.

The insurer polled 1,000 adults who receive health benefits through employer-sponsored group insurance. Of those, 65 percent reported that they plan to spend more time reviewing their health benefits this year as a result of the national debate on health reform. Previously, more than 50 percent of respondents stated they spent an hour or less reviewing their group insurance options and open enrollment paperwork.

In addition, the UnitedHealthcare survey also found that many do not fully understand their health insurance options. Overall, 40 percent of survey participants said they only "somewhat" understood their medical coverage options. That number jumped to 48 percent for young adults from 18-34 years old.

The vast majority of employees believe their employer could make the open enrollment process simpler by using interactive and multimedia methods of conveying plan information. The survey also found the current, preferred methods of learning about health insurance benefits to be:

  • Multimedia Methods: 69 percent
  • Brochures and Printed Materials: 31 percent
  • Website: 29 percent

Young adults were significantly more likely to prefer online and multimedia options for health insurance information with 44 percent responding that a website would be their first choice to review open enrollment materials.