Health benefits

Improving literacy for health, but big gaps remain

Only 37% of respondents use employers’ health insurance resources to select and use health insurance plans. (Photo: Shutterstock)

At a time when healthcare benefits are increasingly important in the employer / employee relationship, many workers are unaware of their benefits, according to one new study.

The report is based on a DirectPath survey and found that while many employees feel they understand the basics of their benefits, there are still large gaps in knowledge of health benefits and many workers do not. not use the resources provided by their employer for the benefits.

Related: Role of Employers in Improving Health Literacy

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led more and more people to pay close attention to health care, but many still lack the knowledge to make informed choices about their health plan and care,” DirectPath said in a statement.

Obtain information from many sources

The survey found that only 37% of respondents use employers’ health insurance resources to select and use health insurance plans. Slightly fewer, 34%, said they were educating themselves online or through other media, and 24% said they turned to a family member. The survey found that 16% use a third-party resource such as a benefits educator offered by their employer, and 14% said they got their information through a friend, acquaintance or a colleague.

Use of employer-provided information via digital channels remains low, but survey suggests these sources can be helpful: only 11% of respondents said their employers used texts to communicate about health benefits , but among those who receive texts, 83% said the information was very or extremely useful, up 67% from the previous report. Of those who receive information through social media, 88% found the information to be very or extremely useful.

Other findings noted by the report: 55% of respondents did not know they could compare the costs of treatments or services before choosing where to get their care.

And of the 31% of those polled who said they received an inaccurate medical bill in the past three years, 7% did nothing. The survey found that 43% of those consumers didn’t think the mistake was worth fixing, and 52% said they didn’t know how to fix the mistake.

The pandemic has affected treatment, including an increase in telemedicine

The survey confirmed what other reports noted: There has been a sharp increase in telemedicine due to the COVID-19 pandemic – 58% of those surveyed said they used telemedicine services, 36% said they used telemedicine services. said they used telemedicine for the first time.

The investigation also showed that many employees delayed or canceled in-person care at some point during the pandemic. The report states that about a quarter of respondents canceled or postponed healthcare appointments (24%) or skipped preventative care altogether (23%).

Good news for benefits literacy is that more consumers reported checking the status of their providers’ network: 50% said they always or often check to see if a facility is networked, compared to 36% in a study. former.

The report concluded by noting that there are still many employees who do not have a good understanding of their benefit options.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic drawing more attention than ever to health and healthcare, employees still don’t understand what they can do to get the most out of their plans and manage costs. For something that affects not only the personal health of consumers, but also their financial well-being, unfortunately most are not prepared to take control, ”said Kim Buckey, vice president of customer services at DirectPath. “While this survey shows progress in employees’ understanding of how their plans work, too many of them still don’t understand why – or how – they should learn to use their plans. Better one-on-one benefit training and greater transparency in the healthcare industry are essential to ensure employees are able to choose and use their plans effectively.

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