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More Than Four in Ten Uninsured Don’t Know Basic Health Insurance Terms, Fewer Understand Complex Coverage Concepts

Kaiser Family Foundation Provides Consumer Resources to Fill Knowledge Gaps as the Second Open Enrollment Period Nears for the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplaces

With open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces days away, findings from a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey suggest that some people who stand to benefit from the law struggle to understand how coverage works.

The survey finds more than four in 10 uninsured people could not correctly identify the definitions of essential health insurance terms, such as “premium,” “deductible” and “provider network.” Even more of the uninsured could not correctly answer questions that required calculating the amount an insured person would have to pay for a hospital stay (61 percent) or an out-of-network lab test (91 percent) based on the plan’s cost-sharing requirements.

To inform and educate both uninsured and insured consumers, the Foundation today released a new five-minute cartoon video that explains insurance using fun, easy-to-understand scenarios. Health Insurance Explained – The YouToons Have It Covered is a light-hearted treatment of a difficult and important topic, breaking down important insurance concepts, such as premiums, deductibles and provider networks. It explains how individuals pay for coverage and obtain medical care and prescription drugs when enrolled in various types of health insurance, including HMOs and PPOs. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a nationally-recognized surgeon and Foundation trustee, narrates the video, which is the third written and produced by the Foundation featuring the YouToons.

The Foundation developed the video and other tools to aid consumers as they make decisions about coverage for 2015, whether through the ACA marketplaces, job-based coverage, Medicare or Medicaid. The new video can be linked to numerous social media networks and can be featured on other web sites using YouTube’s share button. The previous two videos, Health Reform Hits Main Street and The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare, also continue to be available. Additionally, consumers may test their own health insurance literacy by taking a quiz online and challenging others to do the same. Scores can be shared via Twitter and Facebook.

These resources, along with a compilation of nearly 300 frequently asked questions, can be found on’s Understanding Health Insurance web page. For more updates, keep up with the Foundation on Twitter @KaiserFamFound  and on Facebook.



The survey was designed and analyzed by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation and was conducted October 17-27 among a nationally representative sample of 1,292 adults, including 194 uninsured adults ages 18-64. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using GfK’s KnowledgePanel, a probability-based online research panel. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample and plus or minus 8 percentage points for the uninsured.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Headquarters: 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025 | Phone 650-854-9400
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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.