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Do people understand their health insurance plans?

The language of health insurance is confusing for many Americans. In a Carnegie Mellon University study published just a couple years ago in the Journal of Health Economics, only around 14 percent of respondents were close to the right answer on a question requiring those surveyed to calculate the cost of a hypothetical hospital stay.

"Most Americans don't have a comprehensive understanding of the types of cost-sharing that are at the heart of most major health insurance plans," Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post reported. "And these are people who have health coverage right now, and consider themselves a primary or secondary health-care decision maker in their family."

With the influx of new technologies, health providers are using apps, social media and videos to break down the complex nature of health insurance. While these new methods are effective in drawing in new people to gain coverage, many are still unsure about the nature of their plans and whether they made the right choices.

"Many people are still unsure about the nature of their plans."

"People really struggle with understanding health insurance for a variety of reasons," Kathryn Paez, a researcher at the American Institutes for Research, noted to Mark Zdechlik at NPR. "One is just the volume of information. There's a lot to know. The other is because the language is unfamiliar to them, and they don't really understand health insurance terms and concepts."

When they are buying or switching health insurance plans, there are a variety of questions people should ask. Some of these revolve around basic principles: What does the plan cover? What does it cost? And what providers are in its network?

While cost and coverage are two of the first areas many consider, understanding a health insurance plan's list of providers is also essential to gaining the right coverage.

"Every health insurance plan has a network of providers doctors, hospitals, laboratories, imaging centers, and pharmacies that have signed contracts with the insurance company agreeing to provide their services to plan members at a specific price," Consumer Reports explained. "If a doctor is not in your plan's network, the insurance company may not cover the bill, or may require you to pay a much higher share of the cost. So if you have doctors you want to continue to see, you will want them to be in the plan's network."

Whether you choose to go the home health care route or visit a local physician, be sure to check back here for more health insurance help and information. Contact a member of our team to learn more about available options.

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