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Health insurance exchanges may spark consumerism

Staff writer |
People who obtain health insurance through the public exchanges (HIX) show signs of acting more like savvy shoppers versus passive patients when engaging the health system.

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This is according to the Deloitte report, "Public Health Exchanges – Opening the Door for a New Generation of Engaged Health Care Consumers."

Produced by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, the study compared people who obtained insurance through an exchange with those who have it through their employer or Medicare or Medicaid.

It found that HIX enrollees better understand their benefits and costs and are more likely to compare providers and services on price and, to some extent, quality.

They also are willing to switch plans, thrusting carriers into a new arena of having to continually win over this segment based on price, product and service.

The report found that 51 percent of the HIX individuals surveyed used an online tool to compare and negotiate prices among doctors and hospitals, versus 45 percent for those with employer-based coverage and 36 percent for those on Medicare.

Similarly, 63 percent of respondents used an online tool to determine how much their plan would pay for services, versus 53 and 51 percent for the employer and Medicare respondents, respectively.

When it comes to the possibility of switching plans, only 30 percent of the HIX respondents are satisfied with their current product, compared to 42 percent for those on an employer plan and 58 percent for those on Medicare.

Among those who had HIX coverage in 2014 and renewed for 2015, 45 percent switched to a new plan. This includes 29 percent who chose a new option within the same company and 16 percent who went with a new carrier.

The report also found that consumers don't have strong trust in any one source of help in finding a plan, but that the exchanges rated about as well any of the 11 sources measured by the survey, including family and friends, providers and consumer organizations.

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