Exchange enrollees are just as satisfied with coverage as those with employer-sponsored plans

Individuals who have obtained health coverage on the health insurance exchanges are just as satisfied with their coverage as individuals with employer-sponsored coverage, and they are showing signs of increased confidence in coverage affordability, according to recent research from Deloitte. The 2016 Survey of US Health Care Consumers found that while exchange enrollees are as satisfied as those with employer coverage, they are still less satisfied than those with Medicare and Medicaid.

One reason for increased confidence and satisfaction could be that 70 percent of surveyed exchange consumers said that they were able to manage their out-of-pocket expenses in the last year, while only one in four said that 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, 61 percent of exchange consumers said they look at the total costs—not just premiums—when they evaluate coverage options. Nearly 40 percent say they look at brand and total costs when evaluating different coverage options.

Additionally, Deloitte 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.

SOURCE: http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/life-sciences-and-health-care/articles/health-care-consumers-health-insurance-exchanges.html

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