Measuring Health Insurance Literacy

Recognizing that health insurance is among the most complicated and costly products that consumers buy, AIR developed and validated the Health Insurance Literacy Measure (HILM). The publicly available HILM can help identify what aspects of health insurance pose the greatest problems for consumers, which groups need more assistance to enroll and use benefits, and what topics and skills consumer counseling-efforts should focus on.

A Little Knowledge Is a Risky Thing: Wide Gap in What People Think They Know About Health Insurance and What They Actually Know (October 2013, PDF)

Read a Journal of Health Communication article describing the testing and validation of the HILM.

Learn more about the findings from this brief.

This AIR issue brief describes the survey results used to validate the HILM. According to the findings, younger people, those who use fewer health care services, minorities, people with lower incomes and those with less education generally have more difficulties navigating health insurance. The findings that older people and those who use more services have higher levels of health insurance literacy suggest that people learn about health insurance by doing, so creating tools that simulate real-life examples of how to use insurance are likely to be most effective.

Health Insurance Literacy Infographic from AIR Survey findings: 3 in 4 people said they have the knowledge to use health insurance, however only, 1 in 5 people could calculate their out-of-pocket costs

Developing a Measure of Health Insurance Literacy: Understanding Consumers’ Ability to Choose and Use Insurance (February 2013, PDF)

This issue brief reports findings from our interviews with health insurance counselors and other stakeholders about problems consumers face in selecting and using health insurance. It also describes
a strategy to develop an important new tool: a measure of health insurance literacy.

Measuring Health Insurance Literacy: A Call to Action, A Report from the Health Insurance Literacy Expert Roundtable (February 2012, PDF)

On November 14, 2011, the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC held a roundtable to discuss consumers’ struggles to understand and use health insurance. A diverse group of experts from academia, advocacy, health plans, and private research firms brought their perspectives and experience to the meeting. The experiences of the participants confirmed two critical facts: consumers have serious difficulties understanding and using health insurance; and there is a dearth of usable information on the precise barriers facing consumers.