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Survey reveals worker uncertainty about health insurance plans Posted: May 30th, 2013

By Maryalene LaPonsie

When it comes to health insurance, most U.S. workers are happier with someone else calling the shots.

According to the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report, more than half of the workforce would rather not have greater control over their medical insurance choices. In addition, many are confused about consumer-driven health insurance plans and most say they don't understand all their benefits options.

Confusion about consumer-driven plans

Aflac notes consumer-driven health insurance plans are the fastest growing form of health insurance coverage in the U.S. and have passed HMOs as the second most popular type of plan offered by employers. However, despite their prevalence, 72 percent of workers have never heard the term consumer-driven health insurance before.

In addition, many do not feel knowledgeable about the various medical accounts that may be available to them.

  • 49 percent say they are not very or not at all knowledgeable about health reimbursement accounts
  • 32 percent say they are not very or not at all knowledgeable about health savings accounts
  • 25 percent say they are not very or not at all knowledgeable about flexible spending accounts

With many workers feeling uncertain about their options, it is not surprising 89 percent admit to selecting the same medical insurance benefits year after year. More than half of those surveyed say they feel they may not be managing their health insurance coverage well and leaving their families less protected as a result.

Consumers prefer not to be in charge

One of supposed benefits of consumer-driven plans is that they encourage consumers to be more active in their health insurance decisions. By applying a large deductible to the policy, it is hoped consumers will be motivated to carefully consider what health care they need and shop around for better rates for non-emergency services.

However, workers say they would rather not have more responsibility. Of the workers polled, 54 percent said they don't want greater control over their health insurance options because they do not have the time or knowledge to make wise choices.

"It may be referred to as 'consumer-driven health care,' but in actuality, consumers aren't the ones driving these changes," said Audrey Boone Tillman, executive vice president of Corporate Services at Aflac, in a statement, "so it's no surprise that many feel unprepared."

Workers may not be able to count on their employers to fill in their knowledge gap either. While three-quarters of workers say their employers should be educating them on how health reform is changing health insurance coverage, only 13 percent of employers say providing that type of education is a priority for their organization.