Survey Finds Widespread Confusion Around US Health Insurance

Policygenius annual survey finds widespread confusion around health insurance

Despite political attention, majority of Americans don’t realize Affordable Care Act plans cover pre-existing conditions

Date of Release: Oct 21, 2020

NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ — Many Americans are confused about the basics of health insurance, despite widespread attention on health care during this year’s global pandemic and election season.

According to an annual survey from Policygenius, the nation’s leading online insurance marketplace, a majority of Americans (62.8%) do not realize Affordable Care Act plans cover those with pre-existing conditions, a defining characteristic of the law and a political flashpoint during the 2020 election season.

Policygenius annual survey finds widespread confusion around health insurance
Policygenius annual survey finds widespread confusion around health insurance

Nearly nine out of ten Americans (87%) could not identify the correct timing of open enrollment for, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 this year, and almost 44% of Americans did not believe plans sold on covered required benefits like pediatric care.

Lack of health insurance literacy may also be leading people to avoid necessary medical care. The survey found that around one in four Americans (25.5%) have avoided care because they didn’t know what their health insurance plan covered. More than 8% have avoided COVID-19 testing, treatment and care because they were unsure whether it was covered.

“This year’s findings are largely consistent with last year’s, which tells us that health insurance literacy has not improved, despite widespread attention in the past year from the global pandemic and election season,” Hanna Horvath, health care expert at Policygenius, said. “The persistent confusion speaks to the complexity of the health care system in our country, as well as the effects of conflicting information during debates in the news and in court cases.”

The fourth annual Policygenius Health Insurance Literacy Survey also found:

  • Only 32% of respondents were able to correctly define premiums, copays and deductibles, three of the most common health care expenses.
  • Only 5% of Americans could correctly identify six basic tenets of American health care law, including that children can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26.
  • Americans who make less are more likely to avoid care: 36% of people making less than $75,000 annually said they avoided care because of uncertainty over what their health insurance covered, compared to 24% of those making more than $75,000.

As a leader in financial protection, Policygenius is dedicated to providing free and educational health insurance content, like this state-by-state guide to the Affordable Care Act, to help consumers understand their options. As an independent insurance broker, Policygenius also enables consumers to shop for and secure the protection that best meets their needs.

Policygenius’ survey is based on responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,501 American adults. It was conducted through Google Surveys from Sept. 23 through Sept 28, 2020. You can read the full report here.

About Policygenius: Policygenius is the nation’s leading online insurance marketplace, with headquarters in New York City and Durham, North Carolina. We’ve helped more than 30 million people shop for all types of insurance like they shop for everything else — online — and have placed over $60 billion in coverage. Policygenius launched in 2014 and is one of the early insurtech pioneers. Policygenius launched wills and trusts through a new mobile app in 2020. Policygenius was named to Forbes’ list of Best Startup Employers (2020), Crain’s Fast 50 (2019) and Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces (2018, 2019, 2020).

For more information:
Brooke Niemeyer
Associate Director of Media Relations 

SOURCE Policygenius


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