AgileHealthInsurance Report | 2016-04-19
As health care premiums and out-of-pocket expenses continue to increase, health care remains a top concern of voters. According to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 78 percent of registered voters said health care will be very important or extremely important in their vote for president this year. The economy/jobs and terrorism rounded out the top three priority issues.
Though there is consensus among presidential candidates on the importance of addressing rising health care costs, candidates’ proposed solutions vary widely. Republicans favor repealing Obamacare; Bernie Sanders supports implementing a single-payer system. However, a recent survey from AgileHealthInsurance.com shows that Americans overwhelmingly lack confidence that their health care costs will decrease, regardless of who becomes the next president.
The results come at a critical time — after the Obamacare open enrollment period, before new Obamacare rates are released this summer and in the midst of an increasingly hostile presidential campaign season.
The survey results are based on 1,269 responses to a nationwide survey conducted from April 7, 2016 through April 9, 2016. The survey asked respondents, "Regardless of who is elected in 2016, do you think the next president will be successful in lowering health insurance costs for most Americans?" Respondents had the option of selecting one of three answers in the following order:
“No, I think costs will go up” was the most popular answer, followed closely by “No, I think costs will stay the same.” Those two answers accounted for 84 percent of the total responses. Less than 16 percent of respondents thought the costs would go down.
Part of the consumer pessimism observed in the survey may have been influenced by prior reform effort’s effects upon health insurance costs. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act had an uneven impact upon consumers’ cost of privately purchased health insurance, with some consumers enjoying cost protections, while others faced considerable price increases. For those whose income qualified for subsidies, the premium for a benchmark health plan was curbed to a set percentage of income. For the unsubsidized, the situation was much different. When comparing private insurance premiums for a 30-year-old male, the first year of the Affordable Care Act increased the average premium by 73 percent compared to the prior year’s pre-reform average.1 For women of the same age, the increase was 35 percent.2
More recently, consumers have seen substantial increases in the average price of these post-reform health plans in the marketplace. The table below illustrates how average unsubsidized premiums for ACA metal plans have increased for 2016 compared to 2015.
The survey was conducted following the third open enrollment period in which consumers could buy insurance through Affordable Care Act exchanges. While some Americans are eligible for subsidies, a recent study by HealthPocket Inc. estimated that more than 33 million people nationwide are in the unsubsidized health insurance market, where they lack premium assistance from the government or employers. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, for individuals who do not receive a subsidy, the average monthly premium of a 2016 Obamacare plan purchased on HealthCare.gov was $396.
Once elected, the new president will need to work with Congress to make changes to the existing law. These changes are necessary not only to change the perception that many Americans have about health care costs, but more importantly, their actual household expenditures on health care.
The survey was displayed within a network of over 100 different news websites and other content sites. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income and region was performed by Google-administered technology. Race, education, and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across survey responses is estimated at +2.7/-2.7.