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Report: U.S. workers need to do their homework about insurance offerings

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We are currently in the middle of one of the more stressful times of the year for employees. That's largely because in addition to ensuring that the annual goals set by their respective employers are met over the next six to eight weeks, they must also make important decisions regarding their benefits.

Indeed, workplaces across the nation are currently in the middle of their annual enrollment periods, such that the clock is now officially ticking for employees about what kind of insurance coverage they want for 2017. As it turns out, however, a recent study shows that many of these workers should probably do a little research before making their selections.

As part of the study, the insurance giant Guardian Life administered a ten question true-or-false test to 1,700 employees and 1,200 benefits managers that was designed to measure their understanding of different types of insurance (medical, critical illness, disability, etc.) and their respective features (deductibles, portability, etc.).

Somewhat shockingly, they found that less than 50 percent of the workers could correctly answer a minimum of eight questions, with the majority earning the equivalent of a C and 19 percent earning the equivalent of an F.

Lest you think these poor scores were confined to younger workers, consider the following:

  • 25 percent of Millennials failed
  • 19 percent of Gen Xers failed
  • 15 percent of late-age Boomers failed
  • 9 percent of early-age Boomers failed

The study authors found that while this lack of knowledge was less pronounced when it came to things like medical insurance and its related features, it was particularly acute when it came to less common types of insurance.

By way of example, consider that only slightly more than 50 percent correctly identified the following statement about disability insurance -- "Elimination period is the waiting period before collecting benefits" -- as being true.

Here's hoping that employees of all age take the time to educate themselves about all of the various insurance offerings, resisting the urge to simply decline a particular option because they don't understand it or because doing so would save them a few dollars.

This is especially true in the case of disability insurance, as the odds of suffering some manner of incapacitating illness or injury are perhaps better than then most people would care to believe.    

Source: BenefitsPro, "American workers get a C on benefits quiz," Jack Craver, October 31, 2016 

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