More health exchange consumers say they feel prepared to handle future costs and able to access affordable care
Exchanges enrollees appear to be satisfied with their coverage and many are going online to shop for coverage.
NEW YORK, May 11, 2016—People who obtain health insurance through the public health insurance exchanges continue to act like savvy shoppers. They are showing signs of increased confidence in coverage affordability and are just as satisfied with their coverage as people with employer coverage, according to Deloitte’s “2016 Survey of US Health Care Consumers,” now in its eighth year.
In 2016, the study explores the behavior, decisions, and actions of people who obtained insurance through an exchange. It found that while exchange enrollees are satisfied with their coverage at the same rate as people with employer coverage, they are still less satisfied than those with Medicare and Medicaid. However, compared to last year, more exchange enrollees have confidence in their ability to access affordable care.
“We’re witnessing the continuing evolution of a more consumer-centric model of health care, and the ways in which consumers are navigating the exchanges provide evidence of that,” said Greg Scott, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and vice chairman and national sector leader for the Health Plans practice.
Health care consumers’ expectations for information and transparency are increasing, as is their interest in intuitive tools to access relevant information. Meeting these expectations should lead to increasingly more confident and satisfied customers in the future.
One reason for increased confidence could be that 70 percent of surveyed exchange consumers say they were able to manage their out-of-pocket expenses in the last year and only one in four say they had higher out-of-pocket costs than they expected after using their coverage. However, some groups report more difficulty than others. For instance, lower-income individuals report more difficulty paying for out-of-pocket costs.
“Out-of-pocket costs have been increasingly top-of-mind for health care consumers as the nature of insurance has changed over the past several years,” said Paul Lambdin, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Exchange practice leader for the plans sector. “This cost issue appears to be making exchange consumers pay close attention to the details of their coverage, and changes in benefits and premiums year over year.”
Knowing what costs to expect could also be increasing exchange customers’ confidence. More exchange consumers say they understand the costs of their coverage than people with employer insurance. Moreover, more than half (61 percent) of exchange consumers say they look at the total costs—not just premiums—when they evaluate coverage options. Nearly 40 percent say they look at the brand and total costs when evaluating different coverage options.
Additionally, the report found that more exchange customers are willing to accept network tradeoffs for lower payments than in 2015. These tradeoffs include a smaller network of hospitals (27 percent in 2016 as compared to 18 percent in 2015), a network that does not include their current primary care provider (26 percent in 2016 as compared to 16 percent in 2015), and a smaller network of doctors (26 percent as compared to 18 percent in 2015).
The report found that 66 percent of exchange consumers used online tools to compare out-of-pocket costs. Only 58 percent of people with employer coverage who shopped for a policy online and had access to similar tools used them.
“The exchange markets remain very much in flux. Insurers and consumers alike are learning and adjusting, and trying to determine how to get the most value out of the exchanges,” said Scott. “Our findings suggest that exchange consumers continue to shop around for coverage and evaluate costs before making decisions, and appear to be responding to messages about going online to look for health insurance information.”