Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Cooperative Extension has played an active role in educating consumers on how to choose and use health insurance. In 2011, the Consumers Union, University of Maryland College Park, and American Institutes of Research (AIR) hosted a roundtable to define health insurance literacy and how to measure it. Health insurance literacy is defined as the “… knowledge, ability, and confidence to find and evaluate information about health plans, select the best plan for his or her family for their own or their family’s financial and health circumstances, and use the plan once enrolled” (Quincy, 2012).
In 2012, University of Maryland Extension and University of Delaware Cooperative Extension collaborated to launch the Health Insurance Literacy Initiative (HILI). HILI has produced evidence-based, empowerment programs intended to reduce confusion, increase capability, and increase the confidence of consumers to make a smart choice and use decisions about health insurance.
Health Insurance literacy is a way to build up people's skills so they can better find, understand, evaluate, communicate and use the information to make an informed decision. Our formula or hypothesis is to reduce confusion, increase capability, and increase confidence equals making a smart choice (the best choice for you and your family). We used this formula as a framework or hypothesis when we began the creation of our research and theory-based curriculum now known as Smart Use / Smart ChoicesTM for Health Insurance.