ACA Will Test Consumer Loyalty To Doctors

Insurance News Net reports:

“A new HealthPocket consumer survey found that 34 percent of respondents are motivated to reduce their health plan costs versus keep their doctor. When survey takers were asked, “If changing from your doctor to another doctor could save you money on your health plan premium costs, how much would you have to save annually to make the switch?” over half of the 34 percent who would switch would do so for the lowest savings amount presented by the survey, $500 to $1,000 annually. Eight percent said they would switch for $1,000 to $2,000 and 7.5 percent for$3,000 or more.

Over 40 percent of respondents said they would not change their doctor, and nearly 24 percent of the respondents reported that they do not have a regular doctor. Other research has shown that many patients are highly satisfied with the care provided by their personal physician, including a survey from The Physicians Foundation which finds that nearly 80 percent were “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the visit(s) with their family physician or primary care doctor in the past year. However, with changes beginning in 2014 with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), consumers and small employers will face an array of new health plan choices that will test this assumption.

Other than cost, one of the key factors in consumers’ selection process for health insurance will be whether their doctor participates in a plan’s network of providers. For insurers, cost pressures are moving them to limit the size of their provider networks in order to negotiate lower rates to healthcare providers in exchange for a larger volume of patients.

“Our poll found that while some consumers feel strongly about keeping their current physician, many others are surprisingly open to moving around based on cost,” said Steve Zaleznick, executive director for consumer strategy and development at HealthPocket. “Regardless of what happens with the ACA in terms of healthcare premiums, consumers will need to investigate their options to find ways to save money and determine whether their current doctor will still be covered under the plan they want.”

To help consumers make their best health plan decision, HealthPocket recently launched a new physician search component on its site. This new function allows consumers to review and compare all commercial health plans, Medicareplans and Medicaid programs that their doctor may accept. It will also give consumers considering plans charging lower premiums information to understand which doctors participate in those plans. Though some consumers may be willing to switch doctors to save on health insurance premiums, they need to satisfy themselves that the plan contains a selection of high quality doctors and medical facilities.

The InfoPoll survey of 713 people was conducted between April 18 and April 21, 2013. The methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, and region was implemented by Google. See our InfoPoll to review the full findings of HealthPocket’s survey.

About HealthPocket is a free website that compares and ranks all health plans available to an individual, family, or small business, so everyone can make their best health plan decision and save on their out of pocket costs. The Company uses only objective data from government, non-profit, and private sources that carry no conditions that might restrict the site from serving as an unbiased resource. The founders of spent decades pioneering online access to health insurance information and knew they could offer something different that can positively change how people buy and use healthcare in the U.S. Learn more at