By Clive Riddle, October 7, 2016
GfK has just released updated survey results on consumer health insurance purchasing which found that “one-third of consumers who purchased on ACA exchanges do not expect that their present insurer (33%) – or any other carrier (34%) – will offer insurance through their exchange in 2017. And 32% do not think they will find options on the exchange that meet their needs.”
Additional findings they report include:
- 13% of consumers purchasing through ACA exchanges plan to revert to becoming uninsured if their current coverage was not offered.
- For ACA exchange consumers earning less than $25,000 a year, 34% plan on becoming uninsured if current coverage isn’t available
- 43% of exchange users say they would seek new options through the exchanges – with levels highest among 50 to 64 year olds.
- 35% of exchange users would go directly to an insurer or agent for solutions if their coverage lapses
- 66% say they would choose the best option to meet their needs, regardless of the insurance company
- Only 12% would make a point of staying with their current carrier
- 20% say they would explore coverage through a different insurer
Liz Reyer, GfK Vice President and health insurance lead concludes that “as a ’brand,’ the ACA has taken some hits in 2016. While most observers expected insurance companies to reassess their offerings on the exchanges now and then, the outright defections we have seen have quickly limited consumers’ choices and eroded confidence that the ACA will find ways to meet their needs. We need to see a high-profile campaign making clear the options that consumers still have – so no one goes without insurance unnecessarily – and stronger collaboration between the insurance industry and the government in keeping the ACA viable.”
Health Plans remaining on the ACA exchanges certainly have a market opportunity to mop up the mess left by large national plans exiting the exchanges. Outside the ACA exchanges, plans active in individual markets, and applicable private exchanges have a major opportunity to gain ground with consumers not eligible for subsidies (which are only available through the ACA exchanges.)
Meanwhile, Navicure, in conjunction with Porter Research has just released provider survey results from a study on how healthcare organizations are responding to patient engagement and consumerism, with a focus on consumer concerns about price transparency, financial responsibility and payment options. The survey included hospitals (19%) and medical groups ranging in size (33% in practices with ten providers or less and 21% with 100 providers or more.)
Of the most common questions patients ask about their financial responsibility, provider respondents said “58 percent inquire about payment plans, and 56 percent ask about total treatment cost. Other top questions include asking what balance is due (53%) and what payment options are available (43%).”
67% of provider respondents say patients do not understand their payment responsibility versus their insurance provider’s responsibility, and 42% of providers find that attempting to estimate prices for services is a major problem.
The study found that most healthcare organizations aren’t using available tools to help with consumer confusion over out of pocket costs, with 33% of providers using patient bill estimation tools, 26% sending patients electronic statements, and 25% securely store debit or credit card information on file.
In this era of ever increasing consumer cost sharing, a major market opportunity exists for providers and health plans that can easily answer patient questions on what their out of pocket will be, and offer a range of options for how patients can pay for them.