73% of consumers likely to use health exchanges

Awareness of and interest in health insurance exchanges has been increasing, especially among consumers who purchase coverage on their own, according to a survey from J.D. Power and Associates.

In its 2013 Member Health Plan Study, J.D. Power analyzed responses from 33,000 members of 136 commercial health plans and found that 73 percent of consumers who don't have employer-based insurance say they "definitely will" or "probably will" shop for coverage using a state exchange.

That's well above J.D. Power's survey results from 2012 showing that 55 percent of health plan members with individual coverage likely would use a state-run exchange, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

Consumers in the group market, however, aren't as interested in using exchanges. Those whose employers provide a choice of insurers are only 36 percent likely to shop for coverage through an exchange, whereas 50 percent of consumers without a choice of insurers would consider doing so, the survey found.

"As healthcare costs continue to increase and members pay a higher percentage of the premium, health plan members are increasingly aware of exactly what they are getting for their premium," Rick Millard, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said last week in a statement. "If a member has experienced problems and perceives the possibility of having more control over costs through exchanges, this new purchasing method may become more appealing."

All told, 48 percent of consumers in both the employer and individual markets say they are interested in using an exchange.

Of the consumer group in the individual market, interest in exchanges was highest for people with high-deductible health plans (59 percent), likely because the online marketplaces aim to provide health plans with competitive rates and even lower some costs.

"Income-eligible members with high out-of-pocket costs and less tenure with a health plan are most likely to try exchanges," Millard said. "The exchange also appeals to those working at small companies who want to take more direct control over their healthcare expenses."

To learn more:
- here are the J.D. Power survey results

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