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Workers worried about health insurance options

Brittany De Lea

Open enrollment is underway for 2020 – and many workers are worried about their own health insurance decisions, a new study shows.

About 58 percent of employees report being somewhat or very stressed about understanding what insurance benefits they need, according to a new Aflac Workforces Report, including even higher levels of Generation Z (68 percent) and Millennials (64 percent). A majority of respondents also said negotiating medical bills was stressful, and a majority of workers belonging to Generation Z and Millennials said simply enrolling in health insurance is stressful.

As it turns out, those worries may be fueled by confusion.

Slightly less than half of respondents reported having a solid understanding of their yearly health care coverage costs, while about one-third said they fully understood their health insurance policy.

Compared with last year, a higher percentage of individuals also said they did not feel confident that they understood everything they signed up for. More than half of employees spent less than 30 minutes researching their options.

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And costs remain a top concern, too. About three-in-ten respondents said they would not be able to cover an out-of-pocket, unexpected medical expense greater than $500.

Slightly more than half of respondents said they were satisfied with their company’s benefits offerings and about half of respondents said they would consider accepting a job with lower pay but a better benefits package.

"After many signs of optimism last year, including record highs in employees' benefits and job satisfaction, the 2019 Aflac WorkForces Report found that American workers largely are stressed about critical health insurance decisions and less satisfied with their benefits offerings," Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac, said in a statement.

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Fewer Americans compared with last year (61 percent from 65 percent) also said they were satisfied with their jobs.

However, as 2020 Democrats discuss Medicare-for-all plans and Medicare-for-those-who-want-it options, the national debate appears to be helping individuals make key health care decisions. About four-in-ten employees said the debate has helped them understand their options – including a much higher percentage of Generation Z (78 percent) and Millennials (49 percent).

The survey was conducted among 1,200 benefits decision-makers and 2,000 employees across the U.S.

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