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District of Columbia Consumer Assistance with Health Insurance Survey

Health care delivery has changed greatly in recent years, leaving consumers confused about their coverage options and how to use their health plans. As in many communities and states, there is no well-known, single place in the District of Columbia where consumers under the age of 65 can go to get reliable information about their health care options and their rights as consumers.

This study of Washington, DC residents covered by public or private health plans was undertaken to assess public opinion about the need for a consumer assistance program in the District and to document the level of public support for such an initiative.

A 2001 telephone survey revealed that:

  • One-quarter (25%) of respondents did not know where to turn for help in resolving a problem with their health plan.
  • Only 27% were fully aware of their health plan rights under District law.
  • Eighty-five percent wanted a neutral person, not someone associated with their health plan, to provide assistance and information. Over three-quarters thought that a District agency (37%) or an independent program not part of a DC agency (41%) would efficiently and fairly resolve a problem.
  • Respondents expressed overwhelming support (83%) for a consumer assistance program in the District, even if public funds were needed to develop and sustain such a program.

Eight hundred District residents aged 18 and older who had health insurance coverage completed a telephone survey during April 4-25, 2001. For further information, contact Rachelle Cummins at 202-434-6297. (15 pages)

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