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Israel Journal of Health Policy Research





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August 2017


As coverage is expanded in health systems that rely on consumers to choose health insurance plans that best meet their needs, interest in whether consumers possess sufficient understanding of health insurance to make good coverage decisions is growing. The recent IJHPR article by Green and colleagues—examining understanding of supplementary health insurance (SHI) among Israeli consumers—provides an important and timely answer to the above question. Indeed, their study addresses similar problems to the ones identified in the US health care market, with two notable findings. First, they show that overall—regardless of demographic variables—there are low levels of knowledge about SHI, which the literature has come to refer to more broadly as “health insurance literacy.” Second, they find a significant disparity in health insurance literacy between different SES groups, where Jews were significantly more knowledgeable about SHI compared to their Arab counterparts. The authors’ findings are consistent with a growing body of literature from the U.S. and elsewhere, including our own, presenting evidence that consumers struggle with understanding and using health insurance. Studies in the U.S. have also found that difficulties are generally more acute for populations considered the most vulnerable and consequently most in need of adequate and affordable health insurance coverage. The authors’ findings call attention to the need to tailor communication strategies aimed at mitigating health insurance literacy and, ultimately, access and outcomes disparities among vulnerable populations in Israel and elsewhere. It also raises the importance of creating insurance choice environments in health systems relying on consumers to make coverage decisions that facilitate the decision process by using “choice architecture” to, among other things, simplify plan information and highlight meaningful differences between coverage options.


© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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