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Public is confused about state health exchanges

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Only one-quarter of adult Americans know that state exchanges will only offer health insurance coverage.  

That’s according to managed health care provider WellPoint, which unveils this startling finding in a report based on a telephone survey of 1,013 U.S. adults ages 18 years of age and older. The public relations firm Ketchum conducted the survey on behalf of Wellpoint through ORC International’s CARAVAN Suite of Omnibus Surveys to better understand Americans’ attitudes toward both life and disability income insurance.

Nearly two-thirds of the survey’s respondents (65 percent) incorrectly believe disability income insurance will be offered by state health exchanges. And more than half of respondents (52 percent) incorrectly believe that life insurance will be offered.

The report also identifies homeowners insurance (34 percent), auto insurance (24 percent) and pet insurance (14 percent) as types of coverage that respondents erroneously believe will be offered on state health exchanges.

The report also observes “general confusion” about the benefits provided by disability income insurance, including discounts on fitness services to help improve one’s health. Most notably, a majority of respondents (61 percent) are not aware that if someone becomes pregnant, DI insurance covers their income — or a portion of it — during the time that they’re unable to do their job due to childbirth.

More than half (60 percent) of the respondents think health insurance will cover all of their health care needs should they turn ill. Respondents ages 18-34 are significantly more likely to believe so (66 percent vs. 60 percent overall).

The report adds the global economic downturn is impacting most respondents as nearly half (47 percent) are living paycheck to paycheck, a dramatic increase from the last survey in 2012, when nearly one-third (32 percent) indicated they live paycheck to paycheck.

The survey adds that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents know someone who has taken time off work because of an injury, illness or disability.  Also, more than one-third (36 percent) of respondents have taken off work because of an injury, illness or disability.

Among the report’s additional findings:

  • A majority of respondents (58 percent) correctly believe life insurance covers beneficiary companion programs to help loved ones close accounts and finalize estates. Only 38 percent correctly believe face-to-face counseling is covered. 
  • Fewer respondents realize legal and financial consultations and identity theft resolution services are covered by life insurance (35 percent and 25 percent respectively).
  • One-fifth of respondents (20 percent) incorrectly believe life insurance covers tuition reimbursement.
  • One in 10 respondents incorrectly believe life insurance covers discounts on electronic equipment and cell phone minutes.
  • More than eight in 10 respondents (81 percent) would purchase life insurance on their own if their employer reshuffles benefits.
  • Only 9 percent of respondents would not purchase life or DI coverage on their own if their employer reshuffles benefits.
  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) believe they are protecting their loved ones by having life insurance.
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to say having life insurance means they are prepared for the future (74 percent vs. 65 percent).