Aetna Consumer Survey Shows Confusion When Selecting a Health Insurance Plan

- Redesigned Plan for Your Health website and other Aetna tools can help consumers better understand their health benefits -

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- As millions of people across the country finalize their benefits choices for 2012, Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced results of a consumer survey showing that more than half of insured adults are confused with several important aspects related to choosing a health insurance plan. Aetna has enhanced and completely redesigned the Plan for Your Health website to simplify the often complicated information available on health benefits, and help consumers better understand how to choose, use and get the most from their health benefits.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 insured adults1, many individuals had trouble understanding:

  • the total cost of a health insurance plan – the premiums plus out-of-pocket expenses (32 percent);
  • the differences between plan types such as Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) (30 percent);
  • which providers are in network (26 percent); and
  • whether referrals are needed (24 percent).

The redesigned Plan for Your Health site includes information that can help consumers make health benefits decisions during Open Enrollment, such as the Navigating Your Health Benefits For Dummies® guide, 3rd edition, which was produced in partnership with the Financial Planning Association, the largest membership organization of personal financial planning experts in the U.S. More than 300,000 consumers have used free copies of the guide over the past five years, and the 3rd edition includes tips on how to maximize health benefits in a tough economy, as well as information on the health care reform law.

“We know that health insurance can be confusing, but the Plan for Your Health website can help,” said Wendy A. Richards, MD, MBA, FAAP, a National Medical Director for Aetna, and co-author of Navigating Your Health Benefits For Dummies. “The site has information and tools that can help everybody better understand their health benefits, no matter their age or how much they already know about health insurance.”

Other improvements to the site include:

  • A wide range of health-related articles from Aetna InteliHealth®. Harvard Medical School is one of the primary content partners for Aetna InteliHealth and contributes the health-related content featured on Plan for Your Health.
  • Updated information on options for Medicare beneficiaries. This information is particularly important now, as the Medicare Annual Enrollment period ends on December 7, which is several weeks earlier than in previous years.

Providing Help Throughout the Year

While many people make decisions on their health insurance plans during Open Enrollment, they also use health care services throughout the year. In addition to the Plan for Your Health website, Aetna offers members a number of tools to help them get the most out of their health benefits.

One popular tool for Aetna members is the Member Payment Estimator, with more than 67,000 hits per month in 2011. The Member Payment Estimator provides real-time cost estimates for in-network and out-of-network care for more than 500 commonly used, non-emergency health care services. This level of detail – a first for health plan members – gives members a more complete picture of the costs involved and helps people better plan for and budget for health care.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently released a report regarding the transparency of health care costs, and the Member Payment Estimator was recognized as the only tool from a private health insurance company that “provides estimates of a consumer’s complete cost.” Additional information on the Member Payment Estimator is available on the Aetna website, or through a case study from Forrester Research.

Other tools and resources available to Aetna members include:

  • Aetna’s Mobile App, available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry users. The Aetna Mobile app puts some of the company’s most popular online features at our member’s fingertips. Using the app, members can search for a doctor, dentist, hospital or pharmacy, getting turn-by-turn directions to the office they select with their smartphone’s GPS; view ID card information; get an estimate of prescription drug costs before filling a prescription based on coverage and benefits; and access a virtual ID card.
  • “Ask Ann,” the company’s virtual online assistant that provides members with personalized guidance to find health benefits information. “Ann” is available through Aetna Navigator, Aetna’s secure member website, and is helping more than 20,000 members a day through online chats. To take a tour of Aetna Navigator or see a demonstration of Ann, visit

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 36.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

About Plan for Your Health

Plan for Your Health, a public education campaign from Aetna and the Financial Planning Association, gives consumers the information they need to make health benefits and financial choices that meet their needs now and in the future. The Web site is organized by lifestage – young adults, getting married, family life, living single, and retirement – and offers consumer-friendly tools, tips and content that support well-informed decision-making.

1Survey Methodology

These findings are from a telephone survey conducted by ORC International October 20-24, 2011 among a random national sample of 2,031 adults, from which 1,009 individuals with health insurance other than Medicare or Medicaid were identified. The margin of error for the sample of 1,009 is +/- 3 percent at the 95% confidence level. Smaller sub-groups have a higher sampling error. The survey was commissioned by Weber Shandwick on behalf of their client, Aetna Inc.


Ethan Slavin, 860-273-6095
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Connecticut

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Hospitals  Other Health  Professional Services  Insurance  General Health  Managed Care