What Are the Most Important Health Benefits?

Individual and Family

What Are the Most Important Health Benefits?

Published on June 11, 2018


You may have heard of the ten essential health benefits that come with Obamacare-compliant health insurance plans. But what’s “essential” may differ for each individual person–making the question “what are the most important health insurance benefits?” very hard to answer. Although the answer to this question is probably different for everyone, eHealth does have information on what our customers value the most when it comes to health benefits on their insurance plans. Before we dive into that, though, let’s look at what the government believes are essential to any health insurance plan.

What are Essential Health Benefits?

With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), came the ten essential health benefits. These benefits include covering doctors, inpatient healthcare, prescriptions, maternity, and mental health. In addition, health insurance plans for children must help pay for dental services. While insurers can include other health insurance benefits, they have to offer this mandated coverage in any policy sold as a qualified, major medical health insurance plan.
Some non-qualified plans, like short-term health insurance plans, don’t have to offer all of this protection. In turn, non-qualified health insurance plans may cost less. Faced with increasing premiums for a qualified health insurance plan, consumers, insurance companies, and government officials still discuss this issue.
Proponents of mandated health insurance benefits say that they help ensure the consumers get coverage they may need; however, opponents wonder if everybody should be forced to pay more for health insurance plans that include benefits that they might not use.

Which health insurance benefits do consumers value the most?

The eHealth survey asked consumers which health insurance benefits they thought insurance companies should offer:

  • Maternity: 60 percent
  • Birth control: 55 percent
  • Mental health: 61 percent
  • Drug or alcohol treatment: 38 percent

A majority or large minority of survey responses did agree with at least some of the essential health insurance benefits. An overwhelming 89 percent of respondents said that plans should include preventative care, and 80 percent thought that a health insurance plan should also cover emergency care.
However, when asked which benefits they would pay more for, only preventative and emergency care earned a majority of positive responses. While consumers like and understand the idea of mandating benefits, they already may feel as if premiums stretch their budgets.
Responses varied somewhat by gender and age. For instance:

  • About 66 percent of women viewed maternity coverage as positive; however, that percentage dropped to only 28 percent if that benefit added to the premiums.
  • Out of people of either gender who were past age 44, only four percent said they would want to pay more for a health insurance plan that covered maternity.
  • Similarly, almost 70 percent of consumers under 35 thought that a health plan should include birth control. While about 38 of younger adults would pay for it, only four percent of adults over 45 agreed.

Does it make sense to allow people to pick and choose the benefits that they want? It’s easy to understand, for instance, why an older or single man may not think it’s fair to pay extra for maternity benefits. On the other hand, younger women may also pay more for emergency care, a service they are not as likely to use as a middle-aged man.
By having everybody pay for all of the benefits, insurers may spread risks and premiums among a larger population. Also, people can’t always predict when they will need various medical benefits, so covering everybody helps protect them. Still, concerns over high health insurance premiums plague plenty of people, and eliminating some benefits may help reduce them. Obviously, people on both sides of this issue make solid points, and people will continue to discuss it.

How to find health insurance benefits that you need

At eHealth, you can get quotes for all different kinds of health insurance plans. These include ACA-qualified, short-term, business group, and packaged health insurance. You can vote at the polls for the health insurance benefits that you want, and you can vote with your pocketbook by buying the kind of health insurance that you need. Get started on shopping for health insurance on eHealth, where you’ll find free quotes on all different kinds of plans.

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