Can Americans Afford Their Deductibles?

Affordable Care Act

Can Americans Afford Their Deductibles?

Published on February 11, 2015

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Health Insurance Coverage Costs
eHealth’s Coverage Satisfaction Index, is an ongoing study tracking national consumer sentiment on health insurance correlated with Americans’ feelings about their health and financial standing.
The data from the survey is published in two separate reports:

  • eHealth’s Coverage Satisfaction Index (CSI) was conducted by Wakefield Research and was published on January 22, 2015 (read the report). The CSI polled over 1,000 Americans and tracked national consumer sentiment around health insurance, general health, and financial standing.
  • eHealth’s Coverage Satisfaction Index of Health Insurance Self-Purchasers was published on February 9, 2015 (read the report). Data in the self-purchasers CSI is based on a voluntary online survey of 1,562 eHealth customers between January 16 and January 20, 2015.

The data itself is interesting, but in the age of “Obamacare / the Affordable Care Act” tracking the sentiment of people who buy their own health insurance is an important trend to watch.

Why is the trend important to watch?

The trending data in these reports is important because most Americans are told that “Obamacare / the Affordable Care Act” is good or bad by people who have not experienced it first-hand.
By and large, politicians get their health insurance paid for by the taxpayers and most of the rest of us get health coverage from an employer or union, or from the government, via Medicare or Medicaid.
But, in a nation of 320 million people (approximately), only 14 million under the age of 65 actually go out into the marketplace and buy their own health insurance. These are the people most directly impacted by the law (they also happen to be our customers) and their point-of-view should be heard above anyone else’s.
Both surveys pull data specifically from this audience of consumers who purchase their own coverage.

What did eHealth’s two Coverage Satisfaction Index reports tell us?

Self-purchasers are more financially secure than other Americans:

  • 70% of the eHealth customers surveyed say they feel financially secure
  • 74% of eHealth customers expect their financial situation to improve in the next 12 months
  • By comparison, 66% of consumers in the general population felt financially secure
  • Only 69% in the general population expect their financial situation to improve in the next year1.

Health-related expenses dominate financial fears:

  • 62% cited an expensive medical emergency as their top financial fear, followed by paying for health care (52%) in the number 3 three position.

Most are satisfied with coverage but cost is a major concern:

  •  69% in the eHealth customer survey were satisfied with the value of their health insurance plan
  • But, nearly half (48%) identified the monthly cost of their coverage as the thing they were least satisfied with.
  • An additional 31% said they were unsatisfied with the benefits they receive for the money they pay.

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Subsidy recipients were significantly more satisfied:

  • 84% of those individuals in the survey who received a premium tax credit (or Obamacare subsidy) said they were satisfied with the value of their health plan.
  • 65% of those paying full price for their health insurance, by comparison, said they were satisfied with the value of their health plan.

High deductibles are a major burden:     

  • 61% said they would likely have difficulty paying their annual deductible if faced with a major medical expense.
  • 73% of subsidy recipients said they may not be able to afford their deductible
  • 57% of individuals not receiving subsidies said they may not be able to afford their deductible.

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According to eHealth’s Price Index update published January 15, 2015, deductibles for 2015 health plans selected by eHealth shoppers during the first half of the 2015 open enrollment period averaged $3,933 for individuals and $7,633 for families(2).
Many unaware of improved preventive benefits:

  • Four-in-ten respondents (41%) say they are unaware of how the Affordable Care Act has changed their access to preventive health care benefits.

Self-purchasers think more about the cost of coverage:

  • More than nine-in-ten (93%) self-purchasers think more about the cost of health insurance than the cost of cable television; by contrast, only 64% of consumers in the general population think more about the cost of health insurance than the cost of cable television(1).

Self-purchasers are wary of Obamacare:

  • Fewer than one-in-ten (9%) feel that their coverage is better now than it was prior to 2014, before the most noticeable provisions of the ACA came into effect.
  • More than half (56%) say that their health insurance is more expensive now than it was prior to January 1, 2014, while 43% say that their out-of-pocket costs (like copayments and deductibles) are more expensive now.
  • Nearly half (47%) feel that the Affordable Care Act had an overall negative effect on the quality of their health insurance coverage; 37% feel that it had an overall positive effect.

For more information, refer to the complete report, available through the eHealth Media Center.
Methodology
eHealth’s Coverage Satisfaction Index report is based on a voluntary online survey of eHealth customers. It was conducted between January 16 and January 20, 2015. Responses from a total of 1,562 individual were collected. Subsidy-eligible customers were not specifically targeted in the survey. Data in this report, including data about subsidy-eligible individuals, was based entirely on voluntary self-reporting in the survey and was not independently corroborated by eHealth with data from any source other than the survey responses.
 
Notes:
1 Where general population data is referenced in this release, it is drawn from the eHealth/Wakefield Research Coverage Satisfaction Index survey of the general population, results of which were published by eHealth on January 22, 2015.
2 eHealth Price Index data from the first half of the 2015 open enrollment period, with comparisons to the first half of the 2014 open enrollment period, can be found in eHealth’s January 15, 2015 press release.

We’ll let you know when we publish anything new.