FAIR Health Survey: Insurance Premiums Influence Young Shoppers; Physician Relationships Key for Mature Consumers

Aug 12, 2015, 08:10 ET from FAIR Health

NEW YORK, Aug. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When choosing a health plan, the cost of insurance premiums is the top concern for younger healthcare shoppers (under age 45), while in-network access to their doctors ranks higher with older consumers (age 45 and over), according to a 2015 FAIR Health survey of more than 1,000 adults in the United States. 

The survey also revealed that while older consumers place access to their doctors at the top of the list, all age groups are more concerned about whether specific doctors are included in their plan's network than they are about overall network size.  This information comes at a time when more employers and health plans are introducing narrow and tiered networks in their efforts to reduce healthcare costs.  Consumers also have more access to health plan choices due to the growth of both public and private healthcare exchanges.

"The FAIR Health survey shows that while consumers did not list the number of doctors in the network as a prime consideration when enrolling in a health insurance plan, if the primary care doctors consumers prefer are not in their network, it will factor into their decisions when selecting a plan," said Robin Gelburd, president of FAIR Health. 

The survey asked:
Q: Which one of the following is your most important consideration when enrolling in a health insurance plan?

Age

Monthly premium
cost

Total out-of-pocket costs (Including co-pays and co-insurance)

Primary care physician or family doctor accepts plan

Deductible

Number of doctors in the network

18-34

28%

25%

23%

12%

6%

35-44

28%

24%

16%

14%

9%

45-54

17%

22%

32%

9%

5%

55-64

20%

24%

32%

7%

4%

65+

18%

18%

30%

4%

7%

Total Population

23%

23%

26%

10%

6%

"Millennials (ages 18-34) may be slightly more price sensitive because they are at earlier stages in their career and earning less money," said Gelburd.  "Younger Gen-Xers (ages 35-44) are at a life stage where raising a child might trigger cost concerns." 

Despite the importance of premium costs for younger consumers, maintaining primary care relationships was still a priority for most age groups when selecting a health insurance plan.

Impact of cost when choosing a doctor

The survey asked:

Q: How does cost affect your decisions about choosing a doctor?

Age

Always/usually
consider cost*

Always consider cost

Usually consider cost

Occasionally consider cost

Never consider cost

18-34

63%

32%

31%

18%

17%

35-44

56%

32%

25%

18%

24%

45-54

41%

28%

13%

20%

35%

55-64

37%

22%

14%

22%

39%

65+

32%

17%

14%

13%

51%

Total population

48%

27%

21%

18%

31%

Gender

Always/Usually
consider cost*

Always consider cost

Usually consider cost

Occasionally consider cost

Never consider cost

Male

42%

23%

19%

18%

37%

Female

53%

31%

22%

18%

27%

Total population

48%

27%

21%

18%

31%

*Combines "always consider cost" and "usually consider cost" responses.

According to the FAIR Health survey, Latinos, women, adults younger than 45, low-income households and people with children in their households are the most likely to say that cost usually or always influenced their decisions when choosing a doctor: 

  • Most Latinos (63 percent, versus 48 percent of the general population) say they usually or always consider cost.
  • More than half (56 percent) of consumers with children in their household say they usually or always consider cost, versus 45 percent of respondents without children at home.
  • Most respondents (60 percent) with annual household incomes under $35,000 say they always or usually consider cost, versus 48 percent of the general population.

"Consumers consider a number of factors when they choose a doctor, including cost, quality, proximity and convenience," said Gelburd.  "When we isolate cost, there are significant differences in selection criteria along gender, age and socio-economic lines.  It will be interesting to see how these trends develop as more consumers become familiar with online cost estimators, quality indices and healthcare literacy tools available to help them comparison shop for healthcare."

About FAIR Health
FAIR Health, an independent, non-profit company with the nation's largest collection of privately billed medical and dental claims, offers free, award-winning consumer treatment cost lookup tools and educational resources in English and Spanish at fairhealthconsumer.org and consumidor.fairhealth.org, respectively.  Government agencies, employers, brokers, hospitals, medical facilities, doctors, insurers and others can use FAIR Health data to power their consumer transparency and engagement tools.  They also can license FAIR Health's consumer tools, including online healthcare cost calculators and educational content, and customize them with their organization's own branding and messaging. For more information, visit fairhealth.org.

About the Survey
Commissioned by FAIR Health, the survey was conducted March 5-8, 2015 by ORC International's Telephone CARAVAN®. The study used two probability samples: randomly selected landline and randomly selected mobile phone numbers.  The combined sample consisted of 1, 011 U.S.-based adults.  The margin of error was +/- 3.08% at the 95% confidence level.

Media Inquiries:
Anayo Afolabi
FAIR Health, Inc.
aafolabi@fairhealth.org
646-741-9029

 

SOURCE FAIR Health