EAGAN, Minn., Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While nearly 80 percent of Minnesotans think that managing their health insurance is an important activity, far fewer are confident that they have the know-how to successfully navigate issues such as deductibles, co-pays and benefits. Yet these conversations are increasingly urgent as more Minnesotans start using their 2017 health insurance coverage.
With the future of health insurance plans generating more interest and attention than ever, a recent poll conducted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) confirms that people's attitudes and understanding of health insurance topics vary widely by age, gender and family structure.
Millennials: Health Insurance? Hold on, I'll BRB
Minnesota millennials ages 18-34 are nearly five times more likely than their grandparents to feel very anxious about managing health insurance. In fact, about 1 in 5 millennials said they found matters of health insurance to be a significant source of anxiety.
For example, while the majority of millennials consider themselves to be fluent in texting acronyms – like LOL for laugh out loud and BRB for be right back – those numbers drop by up to 30 percent when asked about insurance terms like PPO for preferred provider organization or HMO for health maintenance organization.
"Every day, I talk to people who feel uneasy about how to use their health insurance plan," said Edward Arias, a retail center manager for Blue Cross. "Everybody wants to stretch their health care dollars as far as they can, but they aren't always sure where to start. No one should feel embarrassed to say they're confused by health insurance. It can be a lot more complex than other kinds of insurance, like auto or home."
Been there, done that: Seniors know health insurance
By contrast, seniors are very comfortable with insurance terms. Nearly 3 out of 4 seniors say they not only open and review their explanation of benefits (EOB) that arrive in the mail, they understand them, too.
Their expertise may be tested, however, as growing numbers of baby boomers who qualify for Medicare coverage need to make changes to their plans. Arias recommends discussing Medicare and private plan options with an expert who can identify whether additional coverage should be purchased to help manage out-of-pocket costs. One example of this cost: Medicare Part D, which pays for prescriptions not covered by the original Medicare.
Three golden rules for health insurance
According to the poll, only 2 percent of Minnesotans claim to be a "genius" at understanding health insurance – underscoring that all generations have opportunities to improve their knowledge of health insurance management.
While health insurance management is an ongoing process, Arias suggests that Minnesotans can boost their health insurance IQ by following "three golden rules":
- Annual review – Never assume your health insurance plan will be exactly the same from year-to-year. Deductibles, co-pays and benefits can and do change. Make a note to get reacquainted with your plan on an annual basis, before any changes take effect.
- Talk to a pro – Buying on your own? Meet with an agent or other qualified health insurance professional who understands the latest rules and health insurance changes. If you're not sure where to start, Blue Cross has three retail centers in Minnesota – Edina, Roseville and Duluth – where experts can walk members and non-members alike through their options. Get insurance through your work? Chances are you have a benefits pro right in the office. Many companies offer informational sessions about the company's health plan during open enrollment. Reach out to human resources if you have questions.
- Plan ahead – It's always best to understand how a health insurance plan can address your specific needs before you need to use it. Think about important medical needs and prescriptions in advance and share your plans with an expert. One brief conversation could eliminate future surprises and reveal new benefits – two ingredients for good health.
At the retail center, visitors' top questions involve new benefits, premiums, co-pays and deductibles, Arias says. "One member who came in had the same plan for 10 years, but didn't fully understand her coverage," said Arias. "We talked through her plan and pointed out some valuable benefits she had not been using. Those kind of 'a-ha' moments are really rewarding."
About the Poll
The public-opinion online poll was commissioned by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and conducted by ORC International's CARAVAN® Geographic Omnibus in October 2016. It consisted of 500 adults ages 18 and older (250 males and 250 females) living in the state of Minnesota. The margin of error is +/-4.38 percentage points for the full sample.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. A nonprofit, taxable organization, Blue Cross is the largest health plan based in Minnesota, covering 2.9 million members in Minnesota and nationally through its health plans or plans administered by its affiliated companies. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to bluecrossmn.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.
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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota