New Survey Shows Americans Lack Understanding of Their Health Coverage and Basic Health Insurance Terminology

2008's New Year's Resolution: Beef Up on Health Insurance; Less Than a Quarter Know Terms in Their Own Policy, According to eHealthInsurance Study

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 01/03/08 -- As millions of Americans resolve to be healthier in the new year, a new survey suggests consumers should add "understand my insurance" to the list of health-oriented goals for 2008. According to a survey commissioned by eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH), the parent company of eHealthInsurance, most consumers lack a basic understanding of even the most common health insurance terms as well as the particulars of their own health insurance coverage. For example:

--  Only half of respondents were certain how much they paid for their    monthly health insurance premiums (50 percent) or annual deductibles (45    percent)--  Less than a quarter of respondents (23 percent) reported that they    were very sure of what the terminology used in their health insurance    policy actually means--  Even basic terms proved difficult, with few respondents reporting an    understanding of acronyms such as HMO (36 percent), PPO (20 percent) or HSA    (11 percent)    

"It's clear Americans lack a basic understanding of health insurance terms, which may prevent them from selecting the health plan best suited to their individual needs," said Sam Gibbs, senior vice president of eHealth, Inc. "But as costs increase and responsibility for coverage shifts to the individual, these terms are becoming increasingly relevant to consumers' daily lives and their well-being."

The nationwide telephone survey of 1,010 U.S. adults asked respondents to rate their understanding of health insurance terms and their own policy. Among the findings:

--  71 percent know their plan's co-payment, and 60 percent know their    deductible--  Even though PPOs are the most common type of health insurance offered    by U.S. employers(1), only a fifth (20 percent) know what PPO stands for--  Women tend to be the healthcare decision makers for their families,    but one in 10 women admitted to having "no idea" what the terminology in    their policy means--  Most Americans would rather find something else to do -- such as hit    the gym (52 percent) or prepare their taxes (30 percent) -- than read up on    their policy    

Is There a Remedy?

In addition to gauging awareness, the survey asked respondents to identify what would help increase their understanding of health insurance terms and their policy. Among the most useful to consumers are:

--  Side-by-side comparisons of policies (71 percent)--  Live assistance with questions (65 percent)--  A glossary of health insurance terms (57 percent)    

The survey also indicated that Americans are comfortable seeking information about health coverage online, with more than a third (37 percent) saying they would use the Internet for information about health insurance if they weren't already assisted by an employer or government program.

About eHealth, Inc.

eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) is the parent company of eHealthInsurance, the nation's leading online source of health insurance for individuals, families and small businesses. Through the company's website,, consumers can get quotes from leading health insurance carriers, compare plans side by side, and apply for and purchase health insurance. eHealthInsurance offers more than 7,000 health insurance products underwritten by more than 160 of the nation's leading health insurance companies. eHealthInsurance is licensed to sell health insurance in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. eHealthInsurance and eHealth are registered trademarks of eHealthInsurance Services, Inc.

About the Survey

The survey, commissioned and paid for by eHealth, is based on telephone interviews with 1,010 men and women 18 years of age and older living in private households in the continental United States. The survey was conducted from Nov. 16 through Nov. 19, 2007, using Opinion Research Corporation as part of its Caravan omnibus survey service. Results of the survey have a margin of error of no more than +/-3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

(1) Employers Favoring PPO-type Health Insurance Over Less Expensive HMO-type Plans. AHRQ News and Numbers, July 26, 2006. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

For more information about the eHealthInsurance survey, please contact:
Alexa Waltz
(415) 318-4110
Email Contact

Sande Drew
EHealth, Inc.
(650) 210-3107