Consumers give employer-based coverage a run for its money

Americans are spending more time evaluating their insurance options and are securing coverage from sources other than their employer. That’s according to “U.S. Attitudes Toward Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform,” a study by Valence Health. Survey data also reveals that consumers consider a health plan’s cost the most important factor when selecting coverage.

“In the two years since we first conducted this study, millions of Americans have gained access to health insurance and significant shifts in the industry have placed more consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their care,” said Phil Kamp, Valence Health’s Chief Strategy Officer. “The survey results show that when given a choice, individuals readily take on more responsibility when selecting a health plan, and may in fact be paying less out of pocket for healthcare services than other industry reports suggest.”

Health insurance perceptions. Compared with 59 percent in 2013, 38 percent of those surveyed receive insurance through an employer. Seventy-three percent of respondents report being very or somewhat satisfied with their current health insurer.

Choosing health insurance. When selecting health insurance, in order of importance, consumers rank coverage of major medical expenses first, followed by prescription coverage, and then routine preventative care. Nearly 40 percent spend seven or more hours evaluating their health insurance options.

The survey also found that today’s consumers are considering non-traditional forms of health insurance, but they need more information on managed care and its impact on cost and quality. Twenty-one percent have an interest in purchasing insurance through a local hospital or health plan, leaving ample opportunity for more education. The number of respondents seeking to obtain Medicare coverage in the coming year doubled from 12 percent in 2013 to 24 percent.

Paying for health insurance. About 30 percent of respondents report having delayed receiving care or obtaining prescriptions due to costs. Paradoxically, more than 40 percent say they’ve paid less than one hundred dollars in out-of-pocket health care costs in the last 12 months.

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