Fidelity: Employees Lack Thorough Health Plan Understanding

October 16, 2007 ( - Fifteen percent of employees say they have a strong understanding of the terms of their health care benefits, while about 60% say they have a general understanding, according to a survey by Fidelity Investments.

The survey of about 1,000 insured employees also found that while 87% of individuals knew what a co-payment was, about half of respondents were able to identify a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health reimbursement account (HRA). Fifty-six percent of respondents could not correctly identify a Health Savings Account (HSA).

The survey also looked at what component of a health plan that employees paid the most attention to with 39% of employees citing the cost of monthly premiums, followed by the amount of co-pay and co-insurance for doctor visits (29%), the ability to access specific doctors (29%), annual deductible amounts (20%) and prescription coverage (20%).

Among the least important factors were access to health education, health promotion and prevention, with just 1% of workers indicating these were important factors in choosing a plan, according to the survey.

The survey also found that nearly three quarters (74%) of workers who didn’t have access to a consumer-driven health plan (CDHP) had no interest in having access; however, those who had interest (24%) were less likely to be very satisfied with their current plans.

“It’s a bit of a contradiction to hear workers say that premiums are the most important factor in choosing a plan, yet they express little interest in consumer-driven health plans, which can be far more cost effective for many Americans,” said Patrick F.Goepel, president of Human Resources Services for Fidelity Investments, in a news release.

Nearly 70% of survey respondents said they hadn’t made any attempt at calculating their health care costs in retirement, while 10% said they had made a careful estimation. About half (51%) of respondents said they expected to offset health care costs by taking better care of themselves.