AHIP, consumer group team up to improve health plan comprehension

young woman working on laptop

Noting that health insurance literacy is still lacking, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has teamed up with National Consumers League to create an online portal designed to help consumers better understand their health plan.

The two organizations launched MyHealthPlan.guide, which provides educational resources to assist consumers parse through the sometimes-confusing terminology of their health plan, according to an announcement from AHIP. The organizations pointed to a study released earlier this year by Rice University that showed 42 percent of consumers with health insurance in Texas lacked a clear understanding of their plan, adding to previous studies show that more than half of Americans do not understand fundamental health plan terminology.

The new website allows consumers to look up keywords and offers resources to help them choose a new plan during the 2017 open enrollment period or better use coverage in an existing one.

“Health insurance can be frustrating when you don’t have the right information to make the best decision for yourself or your family,” AHIP CEO Marilyn Tavenner said in the announcement. “That’s why we want to help inform, educate and engage consumers to make sure they have the information and tools at their fingertips to make the best decisions about their healthcare.”

A recent survey from UnitedHealth found that although nearly one-third of consumers use online or mobile tools to compare plans, the majority of people were unable to accurately define terms like premiums, deductibles, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximums. Other surveys have shown that exchange customers have a better understanding of their plan’s benefits compared to those with private plans or Medicare and Medicaid.

In a move also aimed at simplifying plan shopping, federal health officials will debut new standardized plan options when open enrollment begins for the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Some insurers, though, have been critical of the move, arguing it could hamper innovation.