It’s Not Just You: Picking a Health Insurance Plan Is Really Hard

“People want advice, they want guidance,” Mr. Lang said. “And it’s pretty hard.”

The people most likely to make bad choices appear to be those least able to afford it. A recent study in the Netherlands, which offers insurance to everyone through an Obamacare-like marketplace, found that only 5 percent of Dutch customers did a better job at choosing an ideal plan than they would have by choosing a plan at random. And the people in that top 5 percent tended to be have college degrees and jobs in technical fields. People with less education and income, who tend to be in worse health, were very likely to choose a plan that cost them more to cover their health care — a situation that might leave them skimping on needed medicine or procedures.

But even highly educated Dutch professionals struggled. People who worked in the insurance industry and had advanced degrees made a good choice about 30 percent of the time. And only about 40 percent of trained statisticians — the group with the best performance — chose good plans for their needs.

In the United States, a working paper has found that many professionals who help people select health