Monday, July 15, 2013

When Choosing Health Plans, It's the Monthly Premium That Counts

What People Want from Exchanges : Low Monthly Premium Price
All men have their price.
Sir Robert Walpole (1676-1745), Memoirs of Walpole
The real price of everything is the toil and trouble of acquiring it.
Adam Smith (1723-1790), The Wealth of Nations
A central tenet of these Medinnovation blog posts is:  there is rarely anything new under the sun, human nature rarely changes.
I thought of this tenet when I lunched today with two luminaries from Rhode Island,  a quintessential Blue State, firmly in Obamacare’s  hip pocket.  
I read today about Insurers’ apprehensions about Obamacare(Anna Wilde Matthws, “Insurers Take Obamacare for a Spin, July 15, WSJ) 

The insurers’ concerns focus on this question: what matters most to consumers?
As it turns out, it’s no contest: it’s all about money. 
Here’s what consumers had to say in response this question by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island:

When deciding on what plan to purchase, how important was each of the following in your decision on what plan you selected?
Ranked number 1,  or 2 or 3, with total of 1,2, 3 ranks
·         Monthly premium you are responsible for:  48%, or 26%%, 74%

·         Maximum out of pocket expense: ranked 1, 2, or 3 – 11%, or 29%, 40%

·         Cost/co-payment per doctor visit – 8%, or 31%, 39%

·         Prescription drug benefit – 5%, or 27%,   32%

·         Individual deductible amount – 8%, or 22%, 30%

·         Family deductible amount – 7%, or 21%, 28%

·         Brand of insurance company- 5%, or 14%, 19%

·         Network access – 3%, or 13%, 16%

·         In-patient hospital benefits – 3%, or 10%, 13%

·         Emergency room benefit – 2%, or 8%, 10%
In other words, when push comes to shove, it’s the monthly  premium that counts over all other factors.
This is crucial for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which expects its 16,000 individual market to grow from 16,000 to 36,000 new people in 2014.  In its test marketing, the Blues had a problem with Hispanics,  only 4 of 500 people completed a Spanish-language version of the BCBS simulation test. Too much toil and trouble, I suppose.  Other test respondents take only 9 minutes to answer the question, meaning they weremost interested in price not in the other options.  

The devil may be in the option details, but the decision is in the monthly premiums.
Tweet:   Insurer test-runs of health plan o  offered on exchanges indicate consumers are  interested  monthly premiums prices, not other options.

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