New GfK research shows that insurance companies that depart from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace risk damaging their reputations with millions of consumers.
When asked how they would feel if their insurance company stopped offering products through the ACA, 33% of adults with health insurance said it would make their view of the firm worse. More than half (57%) reported their feelings would be neutral, and 8% said their view of the insurance company would improve.
Among those who currently get their medical insurance through the ACA (also known as “ObamaCare”), 41% said their opinion of the firm would be damaged, while 52% said the effect would be neutral.
When asked who is to blame for these defections from the ACA market, 30% of insured adults chose “government,” 15% selected “insurance companies” – but the largest proportion (42%) said both were equally responsible.
GfK also posed several possible reasons for insurance firms dropping out of the ACA and asked respondents to pick the “most important” one. Roughly one-third (36%) of adults with insurance (and 42% of current ACA users) chose, “Insurance companies are putting profits before people.” That is twice the proportion (18%) who selected, “Insurance companies are losing more money than they can afford to.” Similar percentages picked “Not enough young, healthy people are signing up” (17%) and “The ACA approach to paying for care just doesn’t work” (16%).
“While insurance companies need to keep track of their immediate viability, they also should recognize that the longer-term battle over perception may not be going their way,” said Liz Reyer, Vice President and health insurance lead on GfK’s Financial Services team. “They have the opportunity to be clearer with consumers about how the ACA is affecting their bottom line, recognizing that some of their customers’ skepticism may flow from a simple lack of understanding. On the plus side, consumers do not appear to have written off the ACA itself; to the extent that insurers value stability, the ACA’s health is also their own.”
In the survey, 70% of insured adults reported being aware of the ACA healthcare exchanges, but only 37% said they had “heard any news in the last month regarding health insurers and health care exchanges.”
The GfK survey was completed by 921 US consumers, ages 18 and above, who have health insurance (including 48 who currently rely on the ACA for insurance) in August 2016. An additional sample of exchange purchasers was added to provide a more robust read of this population, bringing the total to 301. Respondents are members of GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, the only commercially available online probability panel in the marketplace; making the sample truly projectable to the US population.