‘Tis the Season for Health Insurance Shopping, Too:
Consumers & Marketplace Enrollees Looking to Change Insurers
Here’s to good health care in 2016. Open enrollment for health insurance has officially started for the third year of the Affordable Care Act and its HealthCare.gov online marketplace. To get coverage that starts on January 1, 2016, consumers need to pick a plan by December 15, 2015. The New York Times reported this past weekend that federal officials recently acknowledged that many marketplace consumers can expect to see increases in their premiums unless they pick a new plan offered by a competing insurance provider.
In addition, now is also the time of year that many employers are re-assessing their health insurance coverage plans – and having to weigh the impact of potential rate increases against the impact on employees if the insurer is changed, particularly if a new plan means currently used care providers are no longer covered in the new plan’s network.
CivicScience used our polling network starting in early October to get a sense of the size and picture of U.S. consumers who may be “in the market” for a new health care insurer, and also how this translates to the ACA online marketplace (aka “Obamacare”). We asked over 3,700 U.S. adults who are aged 25 and older, since younger persons may still be covered by their parents as dependents until the age of 26.
Almost 1 in 5 May be in the Market to Change Health Insurers
About 22% of consumers may be looking to sign up with a new health insurer for 2016 regardless of the source – including 6% who are undecided (and possibly persuadable) about changing insurers and another 11% who are not sure if they will switch. For the latter group, some may be at the mercy of their employer’s decision on what plan to offer in 2016, which may not be decided yet.
We grouped respondents in three ways based on their answers into the categories of: not changing insurers; may be in the market to change, or are uninsured currently (and therefore intentions are not clear).
What we learned about those who may be in the market to change insurers is that they are significantly more likely to be enrolled via the government’s online marketplace and that personal price sensitivity and dissatisfaction in current coverage may be major drivers.
Some specific insights we found in our InsightStore™ about these poll respondents reveal that they are:
- 115% more likely than average to have purchased their existing health insurance out-of-pocket on the Healthcare.gov marketplace to comply with the ACA individual mandate.
- 59% more likely to say they are “not at all satisfied” with the health care they have received in the past 12 months.
- Not much different in age distribution from the average general population.
- Slightly (+8%) more likely to be unemployed.
- 30% more likely to make less than $35,000 per year in household income (HHI).
- 21% more likely to believe that their personal financial situation will get worse in the next 6 months.
- Yet, 37% more likely to say they think the U.S. economy will get better in the next 6 months – showing some optimism tendency about macro-economic conditions.
Many of those in the market for new health insurance will no doubt be looking for competitive deals on the marketplace (and eligible tax breaks), particularly if existing providers are upping renewal rates this year as being widely reported.
A Look at ACA Marketplace Enrollees
According to our data, about 7% of U.S. adults aged 25+ are enrolled in the marketplace currently, and another 2% plan to enroll for 2016 coverage; this number is close to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimate of 17.6 million covered in September 2015 (which is about 5.5% of the U.S. population).
Those enrolled are more likely than average to be younger in age (<34) and unemployed.
As you can see, the bulk of consumers (87%) receive their coverage from another source and/or have no plan to receive coverage via the marketplace in 2016.
But What About Those Still Uninsured?
There remains a percentage of the population still not carrying health insurance: CivicScience’s poll that shows an uninsured rate of 7% is just slightly lower than recent reports from Gallup and the CDC (which both reported on ages 18-65 while we polled those 25 and older).
As our data reveals, personal economics are likely the sole or primary driver for this decision. As a result, these folks are 247% more likely than average to say they have not been to a doctor, nurse, or other health professional in the past 12 months.
The uninsured are:
- 81% more likely to be in the youngest age grouping for our poll (25-34), which can also explain why they are 55% more likely to NOT be a parent. They are also 69% more likely to be single (never married) and 165% more likely to be separated.
- 60% more likely to believe that their personal financial situation will get worse in the next 6 months – a higher rate than the insured who are in the market to change coverage in 2016.
- 125% more likely to make less than $25,000 per year in HHI.
- 53% more likely to say they think the U.S. economy will get worse in the next 6 months.
- 109% more likely to say they won’t be spending money on holiday shopping this year.
With personal finances being such a major factor for these individuals, it seems that much better communication about cost assistance options is needed to further reduce the uninsured rate in the U.S. and convert more of these individuals to being covered. They are also more pessimistic about macro-economic conditions, which may be directly related to their personal economic situation. Youth may play a role here, so communication via social media could go a long way here as well.
With nearly 1 in 5 U.S. consumers certain of or potentially considering a health care insurer switch for 2016, the industry could see a lot of shake-up this year both within the ACA marketplace and outside of it as well.
About the CivicScience Methodology:
CivicScience collects real-time consumer research data via polling applications that run on hundreds of U.S. publisher websites, cycling through thousands of active questions on any given day. Respondents voluntarily opt-in their answers with no incentives, compensation or coercion — they answer for fun and are kept anonymous, allowing for greatly reduce bias and higher levels of engagement. All respondents for this were targeted based on reported age of 25 or older. Collection dates for this study were October 7-November 2, 2015 for the health insurer switching question, and October 23-November 2, 2015 for the marketplace enrollment question. CivicScience builds deep, timely psychographic profiles of these respondents with each question respondents answer over time, providing valuable consumer sentiment and behavior insight data to the decision makers who care. The CivicScience methodology has been scientifically validated by a team of academic leaders and by independent research firms. CivicScience currently has millions of anonymous consumer profiles stored, growing daily.