Consumers use alternative health coverage sources

Americans are spending more time evaluating their insurance options, and more Americans are considering different sources.

Americans are spending more time evaluating their insurance options, and are securing coverage from sources other than their employer, according to the findings of a recent survey.

Less than 50% of Americans now get their health insurance through employers, according to the Valence Health survey.

This is in spite of widespread consumer unfamiliarity with non-traditional health plan options, including provider-sponsored health plans (PSHPs).

The findings come on the heels of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (CDC NCHS) report announcing that for the first time in history, more than 90% of Americans are now insured due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Related: Three things MCOs must consider as the uninsured rate drops

The Valence Health “U.S. Attitudes Toward Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform” survey data also show that 55% of respondents spent five or more hours choosing a health insurance option. In addition, consumers consider a health plan’s cost the most important factor when selecting coverage.

“Managed care executives should leverage their unique expertise to teach consumers about the benefits of local health plan options and provider-sponsored offerings,” says Phil Kamp, chief strategy officer at Valence Health.

Survey results also show that 21% of those surveyed have an interest in purchasing insurance through a local hospital or health plan, leaving ample opportunity for more education about coordinated care and its impact on cost and quality. 

Other key survey findings include:

• Compared with 59% in 2013, 38% of those surveyed received insurance through an employer.

• 73% of respondents reported being very or somewhat satisfied with their current health insurer.

• When selecting health insurance, in order of importance, respondents ranked coverage of major medical expenses first, followed by prescription coverage (second), and routine preventative care (third).

• Nearly 40% of respondents reported spending seven or more hours evaluating their health insurance options.

• The number of respondents who said they would seek to obtain Medicare coverage in the coming year doubled from 12% in 2013 to 24%.

• About 30% of respondents reported that they have delayed receiving care or obtaining prescriptions due to costs.

• More than 40% said they’ve paid less than $100 in out-of-pocket healthcare costs in the last 12 months.