Key Obamacare allies face uphill battle with consumers

Aug 13, 2013, 10:05 ET from HealthPocket

"Navigators" and nonprofits least likely sources of health insurance guidance

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health exchange "navigators" and reform-aligned nonprofit groups are preparing to assist millions during Obamacare's inaugural enrollment season this October, but according to a new nationwide survey by HealthPocket, they currently rank dead last with respect to consumers' preference for health insurance guidance. When asked, "During Obamacare's first Open Enrollment Period, where will you get advice regarding your health insurance selection?" only 3 percent selected a "navigator or nonprofit group." Among the younger age groups, the most important demographic segment for making Obamacare financially viable, navigators and nonprofits performed just as poorly.

Starting on October 1, millions of Americans will have access to the new insurance options created by the Affordable Care Act and will face a tax penalty if they do not have creditable health insurance coverage. The Obama administration is spending $54 million to hire "navigators" whose job is to inform consumers about the new plans and help them enroll through government exchanges. The administration also seeks to promote Obamacare enrollment through aligned nonprofit groups such as Enroll America, Doctors for America, Organizing for America, and Planned Parenthood.

"The financial viability of the new health insurance exchanges is closely tied to the enrollment of younger, healthier individuals, and administration officials have stated that they would like to get 2.7 million enrolled from this age segment," said Bruce Telkamp, CEO of HealthPocket, a nonpartisan research and insurance comparison website. "Given that only 3 percent of consumers in the critically important 18 to 34 year age group indicated that they will use navigators or nonprofits as a primary source of advice, the administration will need to rely heavily on marketing channels outside of the Navigator program and nonprofit outreach to meet its enrollment goals."

The most preferred source of health insurance advice was doctors and pharmacists at 14 percent of all survey respondents. Consistent with employer-based health insurance statistics, most survey respondents (67%) indicated that they would not be changing insurance or they would not be seeking advice on health insurance selection.

The nationwide survey was conducted between August 1, 2013 and August 5, 2013 and reflects 1,150 responses. The methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, and region was implemented by Google. See the InfoPoll report to review the detailed findings. Consumers can review health insurance options available in the current marketplace for free by using HealthPocket's health insurance comparison tool that compares quality and costs of health plans in any geographic area.

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SOURCE HealthPocket