NEW YORK, Aug. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- 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, 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 signal here is that the exchanges are not only attracting more individual purchasers into the system, but people who may be bringing a shopper's mindset," said Greg Scott, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and vice chairman and national sector leader for the health plans practice. "This could be another force that pushes health care to a more customer-centric model, one that runs on information, transparency, customer service and disruptive delivery models."
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.
"The ACA individual market is still a new phenomenon that is up for grabs," said Paul Lambdin, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and exchange practice leader for the plans sector. "Loyalty is not locked in like it is in other industries – there could be a significant opportunity for traditional players and new entrants to seize market share by listening to what consumers say about product, price and service."