How difficult is it to choose health insurance? It's more challenging than parenting.
That's the word from Aetna, which recently released its Empowered Health Index Survey findings. The poll of 1,500 people nationwide showed that picking the right medical coverage for individuals and families was the second-hardest "major life decision," with only funding retirement more of a challenge.
"Survey participants reported that choosing health care benefits is more difficult than purchasing a car, making decisions about medical tests or treatments, parenting and selecting homeowners, renters or auto insurance," Aetna said in a statement.
Why are people so intimidated? Aetna offered three reasons:
"The survey results showed that consumers understand the importance of health benefits. However, they don't feel they have the resources they need to make an educated decision," Mark Bertolini, Aetna's chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement. "We need to make the process of choosing and using health benefits easier for consumers." (See: "Open enrollment: 5 tips for selecting the best benefits.")
The survey touched on other noteworthy elements, including health reform:
Meanwhile, the cost for workplace-based family health insurance rose by 4 percent in 2012, while wages climbed a mere 1.7 percent, according to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The annual cost for family health coverage was $15,745 in 2012, with workers paying an average of $4,316 in premiums, according to Kaiser. (See: "Group health insurance premiums up 97% since 2002.")
The anxiety may rise this time of the year as open enrollment for employer-based medical plans is usually offered to workers in the fall. It's the time to gather relevant facts and spend the hours needed to learn which coverage is the most cost-effective while offering the best protection, says Wendy Shanahan-Richards, Aetna's national medical director and co-author of "Navigating Your Health Benefits for Dummies."
These 10 basic steps may not be as fun as leafing through shiny new car brochures, but Shanahan-Richards says they can help:
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