No one understands their health benefits, survey says

Employees “spend 30 minutes or less” going over benefits materials before open enrollment.

You wouldn’t imagine taking a job without healthcare benefits. But when it comes to reading over the details of those benefits, or choosing a plan, do you study the materials carefully – or just throw your hands up in frustration?

Maestro Health surveyed 1,000 consumers on their knowledge and expectations about healthcare and employer involvement, and the prognosis isn’t good.

The survey revealed 35% of respondents either only somewhat understand, don’t understand or know nothing about their healthcare coverage, and 33% of respondents don’t understand their medical bills.

Fifty-four percent of people did not know what the term “self-funded healthcare” meant. (It’s a good thing: it means the employer uses its own funds to provide your health insurance).

Employees hoping to get some clarity from their employers on benefits-related matters can keep waiting.  62% felt their employer does not serve as a resource for their healthcare-related questions.

Maestro’s survey wasn’t the only data that found healthcare consumers confused or overwhelmed. HR Dive cited another poll by benefits provider Unum that found employees “spend 30 minutes or less” going over benefits materials before open enrollment, a process that leaves many people feeling stressed (21%), confused (22%) and anxious (20%).

Many people are opting out participating fully in their healthcare plans because of cost – 68% of people said that the cost of their healthcare had increased in the last three years. In an effort to keep costs down, 39% of respondents chose not to go to the doctor in the past year.

This can affect their workplace’s bottom line if they get sick: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, productivity losses from missed work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year. It all adds up.

“In the U.S., we spend more than $10,000 per person per year on healthcare, which adds up to more than $3.5 trillion. This is double what most other countries spend, yet regrettably, our average life expectancy is the shortest,” said Rob Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Maestro Health, in a release. “Understanding what people need and want when it comes to healthcare and benefits – and arming consumers with the tools to enhance their literacy – will help us improve consumers’ individual health outcomes and reverse those life expectancy statistics.”

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.