Health insurance

What do the words "flexible spending account" mean to you? How about "out-of-pocket maximum"? Surely "copay" rings a bell?

If you're like many people, some of the terms in your health insurance plan might as well be written in Sanskrit. Less than half of workers are comfortable explaining common benefit terms to a friend or co-worker. Only a few more read all of the benefit information provided to them during their office's annual health care enrollment process, according to a survey by consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

"Employees have seen benefits as kind of a once-a-year event," said Jill Folan, spokeswoman for Watson Wyatt.

Understanding such terminology is increasingly important as workers take more responsibility for managing their coverage, a task once left to employers, she said.

Businesses aren't off the hook, however. Employers can provide a glossary of health benefit terms, as well as provide examples to help employees understand common scenarios, Folan said.

Nothing like kicking back in the easy chair for a little light reading on deductibles.

The nonscientific survey included nearly 2,100 workers covered by health insurance.

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