Citing large differences in health insurance literacy, the study shows that people of color and those from ethnic minorities in particular have greater difficulty accessing medical care and avoiding administrative hassles. They are also at greater risk of having delays in care, denials of coverage, and receiving unexpected costly medical bills.
The researchers say's complex insurance plans, with intricate cost calculations and complicated language and terminology, can be very difficult to understand, even for people with a college education.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act seven years ago, thousands of
These observations of low plan use; news reports of surprise medical bills; the fact that medical bills are the number one cause of personal bankruptcy; and other difficulties in accessing health care, spurred the
"Having health insurance is an invaluable asset, but what good is it if people can't understand how to use it?" asks Dr.
"First, we need to start raising health insurance literacy to remove an important source of health disparity," he says, "but a more permanent solution would be removing complex language and convoluted rules from health insurance. Access to simpler, more consumer-friendly insurance plans should be a priority in order to achieve greater health equity for
The team also recommends the use of trained, in-person health insurance navigators or coaches to help guide patients.
The poll, conducted by phone during 2016, measured health insurance literacy among 516 adult
"Health insurance literacy is a health care disparity that we actually have the power to do something about, and we can continue to measure our progress," says Dr.
Fifield says that until now, there has been no information about the health insurance literacy rates of
"While these baseline survey results overall are not much different from the rest of the country, the survey uncovered a terrible inequity that puts people of color at a great disadvantage," she says. "The good news is that we now have the opportunity to seize the moment in
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