Employees Worry About the Future of the Health Care System

Confidence about today’s health care system has remained fairly level among American workers in recent years, but they are worried about the future according to a survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI). The survey reveals the following:

  • 47% of workers are extremely or very confident about their ability to get the treatments they need today; 33% are confident when they look out over the next 10 years; and 26% are confident when they consider the Medicare years.
  • 42% are confident that they have enough choices about who provides their medical care today; 30% are confident when they look out over the next 10 years; and 25% are confident when they
  • consider the Medicare years.
  • 30% of workers are confident that they can afford health care without financial hardship today, 25% are confident when they look out over the next 10 years, and 24% are confident when they consider the Medicare years. For more information, visit EBRI.org.

Many Uninsured Are Still Not Familiar With the ACA

Uninsured Americans give these top reasons for not having health insurance: they still find health insurance unaffordable; they disagree with the principle of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); they are not aware of the mandate; or they don’t know how to how to apply for coverage, according to a study by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS).

Fifty-two percent of uninsured Americans are not informed about the ACA, and nearly four in 10 have not heard about the health exchanges. Sixty-two percent of uninsured Americans have heard of the exchanges, but only 3% have called one of the exchanges or spoken to a navigator or guide about an exchange. While most of the uninsured remain unsure of their plans about health insurance, 26% plan to get or apply for new coverage in 2015.

Hector De La Torre, executive director of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies said, “The remaining uninsured continue to be the least informed about how and where to get health care insurance, presenting unique challenges come tax season. The uninsured continue to be disproportionately younger, less likely to be employed, and less able to afford routine health costs than the general population.”

The study also finds that the majority of Americans are satisfied with most elements of the health care system; 63% don’t plan on making any changes to their health care in 2015. The general population is most satisfied with the health care system’s focus on preventive care (79%) and their health insurance access (77%). However, nearly four in 10 are dissatisfied with the availability of wellness discounts available through their employers and are particularly interested in more offerings related to preventive screenings/vaccinations, exercise programs, and healthy food options.

The following are other key findings:

  • While only 25% of uninsured Americans can afford routine health expenses, 90% of continuously insured Americans and 61% of newly insured Americans are able to afford their routine health expenses.
  • More than half of the general population pays less than $1,000 in insurance premiums annually; 16% pay more than $3,000 per year.
  • 80% of uninsured Americans say they spend less than $500 a year on routine health expenses, compared to 72% of the newly insured and 55% of the continuously insured who state the same.
  • While the majority of Americans support most aspects of the ACA, a small majority object to the tax penalty for noncompliance with the individual mandate.
  • 54% of Americans oppose the new law’s requirement to acquire health insurance or pay a tax penalty for opting out.

The general population supports the following aspects of the ACA:

  • Allowing everyone to qualify for health insurance despite any pre-existing conditions (90%).
  • Removing annual or lifetime limits on coverage (89%).
  • Providing coverage under a parent’s plan for children up to age 26 (79%).
  • Providing eligible individuals and families who earn less than $92,000 a year with government subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance plans (78%).

Half of the general population does not expect their employer to make any changes to their health care benefits. Twelve percent expect their employer to reduce or eliminate a company contribution to cover health insurance costs.

Consumers Value Healthcare Affordability, but Not Willing to Make Tradeoffs

Seventy-two percent of U.S. consumers who plan to join insurance exchanges say affordability is the top driver of their healthcare decisions, but only 30% are willing to change doctors or healthcare settings to reduce costs, according to a survey by Accenture.

As the post-reform marketplace expands to 51 million individually insured consumers, health insurers will need to differentiate their services and engage new customers, which could be challenging considering that consumers want for lower healthcare costs with few tradeoffs.

While healthcare consumers seek low out-of-pocket healthcare costs, fewer than 20% of those surveyed understand the cost of their care in advance or feel they should track and budget healthcare expenses.

Only 43% of consumers are willing to change to generic prescriptions (43 percent); 41% are willing to use a nurse practitioner instead of a doctor for routine visits, and 23% are willing to change their primary care doctor.

Although 81% want guidance to improve their health, 40% don’t identify going to the doctor for regular checkups as a priority. Only one out of the four consumers trust insurers to provide guidance on improving their health. For more information, visit www.accenture.com.

Anthem Blue Cross, University of California Health Form Alliance

Anthem Blue Cross and University of California Health have formed the California Health Alliance to look at how to improve access to affordable, quality health care for California residents. Among some of the initial areas of focus of this alliance will be the development of accountable care models to better manage costly chronic conditions and the expansion of alternate delivery systems, such as telemedicine to encourage wellness and prevention and, provide access to health care for residents in rural areas. In addition, this new alliance is expected to provide opportunities for research, analysis, literature development and policy recommendations. Visit www.anthem.com.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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