One of the chief aims of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the expansion of insurance coverage to individuals who at present either cannot afford it or choose not to purchase it. Unfortunately, many Americans lack the financial literacy needed to navigate the numerous and complex options thrust upon them by the ACA.
The ACA contains a number of mechanisms through which coverage will be expanded, including the individual mandate, the state insurance exchanges, and the expansion of Medicaid.
Yet, while many more Americans will be able to obtain health insurance under the law, the new policies present a complex new choice environment for consumers, one that contains new penalties, new subsidies, and a potentially vast number of plans to choose from. Successfully navigating these choices requires consumers to be financially literate.
As recognized in research on related areas of financial decision-making – such as retirement planning, investing, and debt – consumers often lack the understanding, ability and confidence to make financial choices that are in their best interest.
To shed light on consumers’ ability to navigate the ACA, we recently examined the distribution of financial literacy by household income. Our findings were recently posted on the Health Affairs Blog and in a working paper by RAND’s Bing Center for Health Economics.