A great deal of health information comes from insurance-related entities – those that pay for health care (also known as “payers”) such as health plans, government (Medicare and Medicaid), and employers. Insurance information includes details about consumers’ rights, responsibilities, coverage, and medical charges. Each year insurers publish detailed information for reference during open enrollment, when consumers select medical, dental and vision coverage. With increased health care costs comes the added incentive to keep insurance beneficiaries healthy. In addition to what they get from health care personnel, consumers commonly receive health information on wellness and disease prevention from beneficiary managers.
Given the fragmented nature of the U.S. health care system and a lack of pricing transparency, insurance-related communications can be hard for consumers to understand. The price of not understanding what is and is not covered can be financially devastating. While plain language explanations of insurance terms and coverage scenarios can help consumers make informed choices, navigating information provided by clinicians, insurers and pharmacy providers in order to understand or advocate for coverage can strain even the most proficient health literacy skills. Information that clearly communicates costs, required actions and assistance options can help lessen this burden.