Quality Ranks Dead Last When Consumers Consider Health Plan Options

Greater transparency, more equal benefits and ease in switching plans under Obamacare is expected to shift consumer priorities

May 29, 2013, 11:45 ET from HealthPocket

SUNNYVALE, Calif., May 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- When it comes to obtaining health insurance, consumers say low costs trump quality three to one, according to a consumer survey released today. HealthPocket looked at what factors would determine a consumer's choice of a health plan if all offered the same benefits—a scenario that will be made likely under health reform.

When survey takers were asked, "If health insurance plans in your area all offered the same benefits, which of the following factors would determine your plan choice?" only one in 10 people (10%) answered that consumer satisfaction and quality of the plan would be their top consideration. One of the factors that may contribute to the neglect of quality in health insurance considerations is a lack of consumer awareness about publicly available information on health plan quality.

Nearly one in three respondents (32%) said a low monthly premium would be the deciding factor. Survey respondents also cited "plan acceptance by my doctors," (22%); "a brand I know and trust," (19%); and "my exposure to out-of-pocket costs," (17%).

"We've always known that consumer choice of health insurance is driven more by cost than by quality, but that should change under Obamacare," said Bruce Telkamp, CEO of HealthPocket. "Once premiums and benefits are more uniform, and people can switch plans more easily, the entire marketplace will be competing on a more level field. People will also have access to information they have not had previously about how the plan really works. We expect that higher quality plans will over time dominate their markets."

Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will transform health insurance shopping by standardizing much of the baseline benefits that must be offered to customers. Health plans will fall into categories of bronze, silver, gold and platinum based on the percentage of expected healthcare costs an enrollee will pay out-of-pocket. Also, health plans will be required to provide coverage for claims that fall within essential health benefit categories.

This InfoPoll survey of 900 people was conducted between May 22 and May 24, 2013. The methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, and region was implemented by Google. See the InfoPoll to review the detailed findings. 

HealthPocket is supporting consumers in their quest for affordable coverage by providing free access to information about cost and quality of health plans available in any geographic location. Given the importance of quality in health insurance shopping, HealthPocket's health plan comparison tool includes Quality Scores for health plans, combining a plan's quality ratings from unbiased government and nonprofit data, with HealthPocket's own analysis of a plan's financial value compared to competing health plans in the same market. The HealthPocket Quality Score examines a variety of factors, including clinical quality measures on treatment and preventative care, premiums, cost-sharing (e.g., deductibles, co-pays), and customer satisfaction.

About HealthPocket

HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and ranks all health plans available to an individual, family, or small business, so everyone can make their best health plan decision and save on their out of pocket costs. The Company uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of HealthPocket.com spent decades pioneering online access to health insurance information and knew they could offer something different that can positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at www.HealthPocket.com.

SOURCE HealthPocket