Consumers report drop in insurance coverage quality, rise in cost

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A new survey conducted on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) shows that consumers report both rising insurance costs and a decline in the quality of insurance coverage over the past year.

In the survey, Morning Consult surveyed more than 2,000 registered voters about trends in their healthcare coverage. Consumer sentiment has deteriorated, with 30 percent voters indicating their health insurance coverage got worse over the past year, compared to only 15 percent who saw an improvement, according to an ACEP announcement. The survey suggests some key factors for the increased pessimism:
  • A majority of respondents saw a rise in the cost of insurance coverage over the past year, with 1 in 5 indicating they paid “much more” for their plan than before.
  • Narrow networks that reduce the number of doctors available to patients led 24 percent of respondents to lose access to their physician in the past year.
  • Millennial patients and adults without a college education are significantly less knowledgeable about key factors in their coverage, including the definition of coinsurance, differences between in- and out-of-network services, and the cost of an emergency department visit.
  • Fear of cost drove 30 percent of respondents to delay or avoid emergency medical care in the past year.

ACEP cites the proliferation of high-deductible insurance plans as another negative factor, as consumers find low premiums offset by high out-of-pocket costs. Where emergency care is concerned, the group has argued in the past that high deductibles are functionally equivalent to no insurance at all. The organization also has sued the federal government over policy changes it claimed would lead to insufficient payments to providers of out-of-network emergency care.

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ACEP President-Elect Rebecca Parker, M.D., called for greater political support for covered consumers. “State and federal policymakers need to ensure that health insurance plans provide adequate rosters of physicians, affordable deductibles and co-pays and fair payment for emergency services,” she said.

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