When it comes to healthcare terminology, some people may feel like they're at a spelling bee. Besides not being sure of what every acronym means – and there are plenty of them – they may want to follow up with questions like, “Can you use it in a sentence?” or “Language of origin?” or “Are there any alternate pronunciations?”
According to an article in Employee Benefit News titled, “Majority of workers cannot define copay, deductible,” there’s data showing that many people don’t understand health plans, even at the most basic level. In fact, in a paper published in the Journal of Health Economics, nearly 90 percent of people couldn’t define all of the following four terms – coinsurance, copay, deductible, and out-of-pocket maximum.
Throw in even more confusing terms such as ACA, CDHP, FMLA, FSA, HDHP, HIPAA, HMO, HSA, LTC, LTD, STD, etc., etc. and one can quickly see how health care consumers are overwhelmed. Understanding all these terms and how they affect an individual or family is crucial to making the right decisions when it comes to choosing a plan. A lack of understanding not only affects the selection of the initial plan, but any changes thereafter. How will they know if a plan covers what they need? Is there a plan that will save them money?
The takeaway from this is that it’s up to benefits professionals to take the time to properly educate people on all this terminology and acronyms. It’s also up to the health care consumer to realize the importance of this education and to study the plans intently and ask relevant questions. This is not a one-time deal. Health care education is an ongoing process, especially as people’s lives change and they need to modify their existing coverage.