Division of Insurance Director Merle Scheiber says that "Insure U" Web site launched by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) earlier this year is designed to help consumers get smart about insurance as their life stage needs change. According to Scheiber, once consumers know more about the options and cost considerations available to them, they can make better decisions about their health insurance coverage.
"There's no doubt health insurance has become increasingly complex in recent years and people may not be getting adequate coverage because they just don't understand all the options," Scheiber said. "The better consumers understand those options, the better they'll be able to shop for the right coverage and to plan for health-related expenses."
Scheiber says the need for such consumer education is evident, given the results of a recent NAIC survey. Recent research conducted by the group indicated, among other things:
? Only 36 percent of young singles said they know the difference between HMO and PPO. And 18 percent said they had declined employer-offered health insurance to save money on the portion of premiums they are asked to contribute.
? Just 12 percent of older Americans thought they were very likely to need long-term care, and those seniors surveyed underestimated the cost of long-term care by 100 percent, saying that expense would come to about $35,000 annually when the national average is closer to $70,000 annually.
? Of those who purchased medical discount cards (which typically provide a discount off fees charged by participating doctors), 18 percent said their experience had been very or somewhat negative.
The "Insure U" Web site at www.insureUonline.org offers a variety of insurance information for consumers of all ages, including ways to lower your health insurance premiums, an explanation of the different types of health insurance, focused tips for consumers based on their likely needs in different life stages, and how to avoid being the victim of an insurance scam.
Consumers are also encouraged to visit the South Dakota Division of Insurance Web site at http://w ww.state.sd.us/drr2/reg/insurance or call the Division at 605-773-3563 with any questions they may have about insurance coverage or companies.