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LIMRA: Americans Need Help With Exchanges

December 18, 2013

WINDSOR, Conn., Dec. 18, 2013 — A new LIMRA survey revealed that the majority of Americans (60 percent) who used health exchanges to shop for health coverage sought assistance when purchasing their health insurance plan.  In addition, nearly half of those who plan to shop for health insurance or are undecided on whether they plan to shop for health insurance think they will need help with the process.

LIMRA found that 59 percent of Americans anticipate they will require help finding a cost-effective plan. More than half think they will need help understanding the health insurance options and what their eligibility is, determining which plan will meet their needs, and how it will work (chart).

"Obviously, the highly publicized technical challenges experienced by the online exchanges influenced some Americans' views on the level of help they will need and deterred others from shopping and purchasing health insurance at all," said Yuliya Babushkina, senior analyst, LIMRA Group Insurance Research.  "Our study found that more than a quarter of the targeted market - uninsured consumers - said they did not plan to shop at the exchanges, citing cost as the number one reason."

One in five uninsured Americans said they would not shop at the online exchanges because they "don't know enough about the insurance marketplace" and 21 percent said they would have access to health care somewhere else.

Interestingly, the study found that shoppers who currently have health insurance were more likely to seek help when purchasing health insurance than uninsured shoppers.  "We believe those who have experience with health insurance better recognize the nuances within health insurance and are more interested to ensure the plan they choose offers the best value and coverage," said Babushkina. "In addition, uninsured individuals, who often are the least knowledgeable about how health insurance works — including such cost considerations as deductible and plan coverage — may not recognize how much help they may need."

Of the 7 percent of Americans who shopped at the exchanges during the first two weeks of October, 6 in 10 said they purchased or planned to purchase a health care plan before March 31. Eight percent of Americans said they attempted to shop at the exchanges but were unable because of technical challenges and 13 percent saying they planned to shop in the future.

In October 2013, LIMRA conducted an online survey or 2,024 U.S. consumers, aged 18-75, to assess their early experience with the public health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The sample was weighted to represent the general U.S. population.

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