Checking in on an evolving landscape

Posted December, 2 2011 by arianne

Our health care system is undergoing many changes both under the direction of the health reform law and also independently of it. Yes, the ins and outs of health insurance are changing, but so are we the people.

PriceWaterhouseCooper’s (PWC) Health Research Institute recently commissioned a national poll of 1,000 adults across the nation on a variety of different healthcare topics and have issued a report on what they found.

Their findings have strong implications for states, like New York, who are still hestitating on passing legislation to establish their own insurance exchanges, and for insurance companies who will need to adjust to fit the new rules laid out for them for participation in state exchanges.

For example, nearly half (46%) of consumers surveyed say they have deferred care at least once this past year because of cost – including 43% of those with insurance through their employer and 54% of those who buy health insurance on their own These numbers point to a critical need for the types of changes that health insurance exchanges will provide, such as lower premiums, lower out-of-pocket costs, easy-to-use information on insurance plans available, benefits, and appeals.

Of consumer surveyed, 37% said they think insurance exchanges will make it easier for them to find and purchase a competitive health insurance plan (only 15% thought it unlikely).  One-third (34%) also reported they would have a less favorable impression of a health insurance company if it did not participate in its state’s health insurance exchange.  Despite legal challenges in other states and strong Republican opposition to anything Obamacare, people are starting to realize the merits of insurance exchanges.

Lastly, sixty percent (60%) of the consumers surveyed said they would be comfortable having their health data shared among healthcare organizations if doing so would improve coordination of their care, and nearly a third (32%) of consumers has used some form of social media (Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc.) for healthcare purposes.  This says a lot about the changing needs and preferences of health care consumers.  Importantly, health insurance exchanges will need to accomodate for new consumer preferences along with the data sharing requirements laid out in the health reform law.  This will require a significant ramp-up period for any state that does not currently employ these mechanisms or who does not currently have the infrastructure or staff in place to sustain new IT initiatives.

Anywhoo, there report covers quite a bit more, and it’s worth a read if you’ve got the time.

Click here to access the full PWC report, titled, “Top Health Insdustry Issues in 2012: Connecting in Uncertainty,” by clicking here. [Note: You may need to register before you can download the report for free.  Sorry – I don’t make the rules!]