Consumers concerned about rising healthcare costs as open enrollment period draws near

Open enrollment is coming soon, and foremost on everybody’s mind as these windows draw nearer is just how much health insurance will cost, according to a survey by Gravie and Wakefield Research.

“Consumers are concerned about the high costs of health coverage impacting their access to healthcare, increasing medical debt and the lack of mental health coverage,” according to a press release from the two companies.

Open enrollment for Medicare 2023 gets underway Oct. 15. For health plans on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace, enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15, 2023, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. And for those covered by employer-sponsored health plans, enrollment usually takes place in November.

Consumers' concerns might be warranted. The Kaiser Family Foundation predicts premiums for ACA health plans might rise by as much as 10%. Meanwhile, employers expect to pay 6.5% more for employee healthcare coverage, according to an Aon report. That’s an increase to the 3.7% increase in costs that employers dealt with last year but is below the current inflation rate of 8.26%, although inflation tends to affect healthcare later than other industries.

Gravie and Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 consumers across the U.S. in August about their concerns about health are coverage. They found that 86% of respondents worry that their benefits do not cover either a portion or all of their exams, procedures and treatments for the year. Also, 71% of consumers say that their benefits do not include mental health, and two-thirds worry that their families will not have mental health coverage.

“Payment for services was another concern, with 91% of consumers stating they have experienced an obstacle related to payment for healthcare services,” the press release states. “These challenges impact the ability to access care in a timely manner, and 42% of consumers have faced increased stress or said they were unable to enjoy life due to delayed medical treatments.”

Marek Ciolko, Gravie co-founder and co-CEO, said in the press release that “no one should be concerned about accessing needed medical care because of the administrative and financial barriers that their health plan puts in their way. The traditional system is long overdue for a change.”

The survey also found:

  • The stress of trying to figure out what is covered under their employer’s health plan is more stressful than their current job for one-third of respondents.
  • 59% said obstacles or delays in scheduling procedures, treatments or medical exams caused mental stress, loss of a job, use of personal time, dealing with pain and the inability to take care of a family member.
  • 52% view the process of seeking a referral as an unnecessary hurdle.
  • 65% had trouble receiving a referral to see a specialist.
  • Over half of respondents cite the high cost of insurance in causing them to cancel exams, treatment or procedures over the last year.