HEALTH PLAN MISTAKES TO AVOID: STUDY

This entry was posted by Saturday, 21 December, 2013
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Cartoon: People Struggling With Health Plans

HAYWIRE HEALTH PLAN

OVERCHARGING YOURSELF

Most Consumer’s Pay Too Much, Pick Wrong Plans 

We’re trying.

This healthcare stuff is confusing.

Dr. Eric Johnson (Decision Sciences, Columbia Business School) observed test subjects “enrolling” in simulated health plans. The testing was modeled on what people find when they use the major exchanges. He and his colleagues watched people sweat through the choices as they  clicked through possible health plans.

Scary.

The great majority  chose stuff that they didn’t need and couldn’t afford.

Dr. Johnson is a specialist in consumer behavior. He’s helped in the design of health care plan systems for several states. According to him, 80% of consumers are paying too much.  $611 a week, he says, for a family making $42,000 a year. Painful!

You know what? I’m buying stock in a company that sells healthcare insurance.

Here’s the thing.

Dr. Johnson – did I mention the rest of his team, Ran Hassin, Allison Baiger, and Galen Treuer? – went further. He didn’t just expose the flaws. He made constructive suggestions. Among them:

1. Don’t choose a plan until you’ve looked at the services you think you need.

2.  Gussy up the software with more pop ups to explain terms that tend to confuse the uninitiated. Not everyone understand what a “deductible” is.

3.  Include relevant “tools”. Just adding a calculator saved money.

4. Default to the most cost effective plan. A simple step like that saved lots of $.

5. Lots of choices overwhelm and confuse people. Easy does it with the choices.

The report, Can Consumers Make Affordable Care Affordable?, was published in PLOS ONE.

BY THE WAY

This study wasn’t a dig at Obamacare. The authors were explicit about that. These problems weren’t caused by the affordable care act. They were caused by the fact that choosing a healthcare plan is just bloody complicated no matter who’s behind it.

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The drawing is mine.

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