National Academy of Medicine

Helping Consumers Understand and Use Health Insurance in 2014

By Kavita K. Patel, Mallory L. West, Lyla M. Hernandez, Victor Y. Wu, Winston F. Wong, Ruth M. Parker
May 29, 2013 | Discussion Paper

We are entering a critical time in health care in the United States. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes the American health care system in many ways. Of major importance is the fact that it expands access to health insurance for millions of Americans. But do Americans understand the changes that are coming? Do they understand their options for health insurance or how to choose the insurance plan that best meets their needs? And will they know how to use that insurance plan once they have it? Many people don’t have this understanding, and they have a hard time getting reliable information when they try to learn more.

Six participants in the Collaborative on Health Literacy and Access, Health Care Coverage, and Care of the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy have prepared a discussion paper that presents basic information that can be used to help people understand their health insurance options. The paper is a resource for those who will be helping consumers make important decisions for patient navigators, community organizations, employers, media, educators, and any individual or organization working to improve understanding of options for health insurance.

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Note

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.