Self-Purchasers Are Confident, But Feel Unprepared For High Medical Costs

 

A report recently released by the nation’s largest private online health exchange indicates that consumers who purchase their own health insurance are financially optimistic and generally satisfied with their health plans, but, at the same time, more than half (61%) believe that, in case of a medical emergency, they would have trouble paying their deductibles.

The report from eHealth, Inc. discloses answers from eHealth customers between January 16 and 20, 2015, and it is a companion to the ongoing eHealth Coverage Satisfaction Index, which is a more general ongoing study tracking national consumer sentiment on health insurance as it relates to Americans’ feelings about their health and financial standing.

Seventy percent of the self-purchasers surveyed reported feeling financially secure, compared to 66% of the general population, and 74% of self-purchasers expect their financial situation to improve in the next 12 months, compared to 69% of the general population. Furthermore, 93% of self-purchasers said they think more about the cost of their health insurance than they do about the cost of cable television, compared to 63% of the general population.

Responses vary based on subsidy status. Americans who purchased insurance and received premium subsidies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ) (P.L. 111-148) were more likely to report that they might not be able to afford their deductible, compared to those who did not receive subsidies (73% versus 57%, respectively).

eHealth also reports that self-purchasers are wary of the ACA, with 41% of respondents overall said they were unaware of how the ACA has changed their access to preventive health care benefits. Those receiving subsidies appeared to be better informed with regard to the ACA’s preventive care provisions, though. More specifically, among persons receiving premium subsidies, half (50%) said they appreciated the ACA’s preventive benefits that are newly available to them, and only 33% of those not receiving subsidies reported being grateful for the new preventive benefits. Only 28% of those receiving subsidies were unaware of the new preventive benefits, compared to 45% of those not receiving subsidies.

There was more evidence that many self-purchasers are not fans of the ACA, with only nine percent reporting that they feel their coverage is better now than it was prior to 2014. Fifty-six percent of self-purchasers say their health insurance is more expensive now, and 43% say their out-of-pocket costs are higher. Forty-seven percent of self-purchasers think the ACA has had a negative effect overall on the quality of their health insurance coverage and 37% think it has had a positive effect.

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