Insurance, as Explained by Cartoons

More than 40 percent of uninsured Americans still don’t know basic terminology like "deductible." These little guys break it down.

Let’s play a game that combines two of everyone’s favorite things: health insurance and vocabulary tests.


Here we go. A formulary is: a) The document that your insurance company needs in order to pay your medical bill; b) The term for the consent from your insurance company that they’ll cover a given procedure; or c) The list of all the prescription drugs covered under your plan.

If you answered c), you’re correct—and in the minority. In a survey on health-insurance knowledge released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly one-third of Americans knew the answer, including just 21 percent of respondents without insurance.

With just a few days to go before the next found of open enrollment on (signups begin on Saturday), the survey found that many uninsured people still don’t understand basic health-insurance terms: Roughly 40 percent were unable to define terms like “provider network” or “out-of-pocket limit,” and even fewer were able to calculate how much they’d have to pay in scenarios describing the cost-sharing details of hypothetical health plans.

Not that the insured are immune to the confusion, either: Overall, just 4 percent of respondents were able to answer all 10 survey questions correctly.

Enter this video, which breaks an often mind-numbingly complicated subject into plain, easy-to-understand English. Watch as our large-headed cartoon hero takes a wild ride through the land of premiums and deductibles, chooses a plan, and navigates a hospital bill following a freak skateboarding accident:

You can take the Kaiser quiz here. (If you're feeling brave, take it before watching the video; if you're feeling the need for an ego boost, take it immediately after.) And if you learn anything not related to health insurance from the experience, make it this: When skate-boarding, try not to run into any raccoons.