A recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and published in the Journal of Health Economics suggests that health insurance has become so complex that consumers just don't understand it. The study casts doubt on whether consumers can even make informed healthcare purchasing decisions.
"Consumers can't be engaged in this process if they don't have basic knowledge of how health insurance works. They'll make disastrous decisions," says lead researcher, George Loewenstein, PhD, a professor of economics and philosophy at CMU.
Setter says there needs to be a larger, more long-term communication strategy that emphasizes continuous education around health insurance policies and how benefit design will be affected by reform.
"I would expect communication to be in full swing in September, not unusual timing for annual enrollment season," said Cuthbert. "Many of the employers we're working with are using this as an opportunity to let their employees know about the impact of health care reform, the public health insurance marketplaces, and potential government subsidies on the employer's plans and their employees."
"I think that a lot of people don't understand that there's going to be a cost associated with the plan shifts in healthcare reform. Every so often we have conversations with employees that think they're going to get free coverage under the exchanges. I don't think they understand exactly what's happening. We're going to see more questions about what's covered and not covered than we're seeing today," she says.