Less Than 2.5 Percent With Employer-Sponsored Coverage Switched Health Plans To Reduce Costs Or Increase Quality

Less than 2.5 percent of Americans in 2010 with employer coverage initiated a change in health plans to reduce their health insurance costs or get a better quality plan, according to recent research from the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). The study, Few Americans Switch Employer Health Plans for Better Quality, Lower Costs, found that, overall, 12.8 percent with employer coverage switched plans in 2010.

Approximately 5 percent of people with employer coverage switched plans in 2010 because of a job change. However, the proportion of people changing plans for other reasons fell from 12 percent in 2003 to 7.5 percent in 2010. Of the 7.5 percent who changed plans in 2010 for reasons other than a job change, most switched plans because of a change in their employer’s benefit offerings (62.7 percent), HSC noted. The other third of plan changes were worker initiated—usually to obtain a less expensive plan or better quality plan. Among all nonelderly people with employer coverage, only 2.3 percent changed plans in 2010 in search of better quality or lower costs.

The survey also found the following:

Small vs. large firms. Among individuals with coverage from a firm with fewer than 100 workers, 12.3 percent changed health plans for reasons other than a job change, compared to 7.6 percent in firms with 500 or more workers, and 5.6 percent among public-sector workers. Most of this difference reflects more frequent changes in plan offerings by small firms, the study noted.

Health problems. Among people in families in 2010 without an adult with a chronic condition, 9 percent changed plans in the past year, which is double the rate when at least one adult family member has two or more chronic conditions. Similarly, among people in families where all adults are in excellent or good health, 8.4 percent changed health plans, compared to 5 percent of people in families where at least one adult was in fair or poor health.

Primary care. Among people who changed health plans in 2010, 13.5 percent also changed their primary source of care, compared to 7.8 percent of people who did not change plans.

The survey contains responses from 7,600 individuals with employer coverage. For more information, visit http://www.hschange.com/CONTENT/1341/.

Visit our News Library to read more news stories.