Employees want help with health benefits, survey finds

Although 82% of US employees feel well informed about the health insurance enrollment process, 53% believe they are not getting the most out of their options. Another 54% do not fully understand what their current health insurance offer, a recent investigation by Harris Poll found. A separate survey by Forbes revealed many misconceptions among Americans about common insurance industry terms such as copayments and coinsurance.

The Harris Poll online survey was conducted June 9-13 and received responses from 2,021 adults, including 1,040 who work full or part-time.

Many employees misunderstand the facts about health insurance. For example, the investigation revealed:

  • Three-quarters of employed American adults said they either believed or didn’t know if they could keep flexible spending accounts even if they left their current job.
  • A majority, 63%, said they believed or weren’t sure they could make changes to their health insurance plan mid-year after enrolling.
  • Nearly 60% don’t know they can sign up for a health savings account if they have a high-deductible health plan.
  • More than half, or 54%, believe or don’t know if a deductible is the amount their insurance will pay for various health services.
  • The Forbes survey of 2,000 Americans with health insurance found that 77% don’t understand coinsurance and 46% don’t understand co-insurance.

Many employed Americans, 72%, said they wanted someone to tell them which health insurance plan is best for their particular needs. But many workers don’t know where to turn for help: 44% of employed respondents said they felt uncomfortable asking their HR representative about enrollment. Another 47% said they call friends and family for advice.

Nearly half of workers are forced to choose the most expensive health insurance plan to ensure they have sufficient coverage, according to the survey. Enrollment stress leads 62% of employed Americans to stick with their current plan rather than making year-to-year changes.

Among employed respondents, 66% said they were actively looking for a new job or open to a new role. Benefits are an important factor in choosing companies, according to the survey, with 78% of workers saying that health insurance that meets their specific needs is important to them when looking for a new job. Another 64% said they would be willing to give up some of their salary for better health insurance, although this is more common among those actively seeking a new role.

About two-thirds of respondents said their company’s health insurance affected their desire to continue working there. Employees who are actively looking for or open to a new job were more likely to say they are not getting the most out of their health insurance options than those who intend to stay in their current job.

Health problems are particularly prevalent among young employees, according to the survey. This age group is less knowledgeable about health insurance, feels more uncomfortable asking their HR representatives questions, is more uncertain about what their health insurance offers, and feels more pressured to choose the most expensive health plan.

Photo: Nataliia Nesterenko, Getty Images

About Evelyn C. Heim

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