Struggle for Healthcare Coverage Remains

July 16, 2014
Laura Joszt

Although cost might not be as much of an issue for Americans looking to obtain health insurance, obstacles still remain for those seeking coverage.

Although cost might not be as much of an issue for Americans looking to obtain health insurance, obstacles still remain, according to a study from J.D. Power.

In the past, cost was the key reason shoppers who wanted health insurance could not obtain it, according to 89% of respondents. Now that costs have been reduced under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are other problems preventing consumers from purchasing insurance they can now afford.

According to the inaugural J.D. Power 2014 Health Insurance Marketplace Shopper Study, although many shoppers began the process of purchasing health insurance, many did not complete enrollment because of 3 main reasons: technical problems during the enrollment process (40%); the process taking too long (19%); and not enough information available on the website (18%).

“No doubt that ensuring a technologically error-free experience, along with streamlining the online enrollment process will be most impactful to future Marketplace shoppers,” Rick Johnson, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “While the uninsured are now a smaller group, they continue to be underserved, just as they were prior to the exchanges, and continue to need more information delivered in an easy-to-understand and personal way.”

Among 1,600 Americans who shopped for insurance under the ACA, overall satisfaction averaged 615 on a 1,000-point scale. The top 2 factors of satisfaction were the amount of time it took to complete enrollment (23%) and ease of enrolling (21%). Overall satisfaction variety widely depending on how the individual applied for coverage, the type of plan chosen, and demographic.

Consumers who enrolled over the phone or in-person were more satisfied than those who enrolled online. Satisfaction was also highest among gold and platinum bands (655 and 766, respectively), despite those plans having the lowest enrollments.

In general, younger shoppers were more satisfied than older. Also, men younger than 50 years, with less than a 4-year college degree had the highest satisfaction (675) while women older than 50 with at least a 4-year degree had the lowest satisfaction (590). Lastly, consumers shopping for individual plans were also happier than those shopping for family plans (625 and 586, respectively).

“The exchanges have benefited from millions of media impressions derived from the Affordable Care Act advertising and news coverage,” Johnson said. “When the dust finally settles later in 2014 and in 2015, for health insurance providers to thrive in this new environment, they will need to retool their marketing, information and enrollment efforts toward a new generation of uninsured to serve their needs.”