Consumers' use of the Internet for health insurance.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Objectives

We examined consumers' search for information about health insurance choices and their use of the Internet for that search and to manage health benefits.

Study design

We surveyed a random sample of more than 4500 individuals aged 21 years and older who were members of a survey research panel during December 2001 and January 2002.

Methods

The survey included questions about searching for health insurance information in 3 health insurance markets: Medicare, individual or nongroup, and employer-sponsored group. We also asked questions about use of the Internet to manage health benefits. We tabulated means of responses to each question by market and tested for independence across demographic groups using the Pearson chi-square test.

Results

We identified important differences across and within markets in the extent to which people look for information about health insurance alternatives and the role of the Internet in their search. Although many individuals were unaware of whether their employer or health plan provided a website to manage health benefits, those who used the sites generally evaluated them favorably.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that the Internet is an important source of health insurance information, particularly for individuals purchasing coverage individually in the nongroup and Medicare markets relative to those obtaining coverage from an employer. In the case of Medicare coverage, studies focusing on beneficiaries' use of Internet resources may underestimate the Internet's importance by neglecting caregivers who use the Internet. Many individuals may be unaware of the valuable resources available through employers or health plans.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bundorf, MK; Singer, SJ; Wagner, TH; Baker, L

Published Date

  • September 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 10 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 609 - 616

PubMed ID

  • 15515993

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1936-2692

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1088-0224

Language

  • eng