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Aetna survey: Choosing heath care benefits second-most difficult decision

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Americans feel that choosing their health care benefits is the second-most difficult major life decision that they face, second only to saving for retirement.

The findings come on the heels of a new survey by Aetna (NYSE: AET). The Empowered Health Index Survey found that survey participants thought that the proper selection of health care benefits was more difficult than purchasing a car, making decisions about medical tests, parenting and selecting other types of insurance.

Consumers found health care benefit decisions to be exceedingly difficult because of the cluttered and confusing literature that they receive explaining the benefits to them. Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents said that the available information was “confusing and complicated.”

Eight-four percent responded that there was conflicting information in the literature received while 83 percent said that it was hard for them to surmise which plan was best for them.

The survey also found that consumers rarely monitor the cost of their health care. Forty-three percent of respondents said that they rarely or never track how much money they spend on out-of-pocket-costs.

Other survey findings include: Four in ten survey respondents have skipped a dose of medication and 76 percent of consumers in “fair” or “poor” health have admitted to skipping a medication. Over three quarter of respondents said that they believed that the health care law was important to them but 41 percent signaled that they would like more information on the legislation.

A resonating positive aspect of the survey was that consumers are aware of the importance of benefits, they just feel that they are under-resourced rendering them unfit to make educated decisions.

“We need to need to make the process of choosing and using health benefits easier for consumers. The survey results will help us continue to develop and enhance tools, programs and products to drive consumer engagement and empower people to live healthier lives,” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna’s chairman, CEO and president.