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Americans cutting back on monthly expenses to afford healthcare premiums

Almost 70% of Americans are also looking to elected officials to bring down costs, saying providing affordable care should be a political issue.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Open enrollment is just kicking off, and if the results of a new survey are any indication, insured Americans aren't impressed.

HealthPocket, a free information source designed to help consumers find medical coverage, has released results of a pulse survey which found that many Americans are facing rising healthcare costs. In fact, more than 40% of those surveyed have found it difficult to pay their monthly insurance premium.

The survey also found that another 41% are feeling pressure to cut back on other monthly expenses to afford their monthly premium. Interestingly, nearly 60% of those surveyed are on an employer provided plan.

Americans are also looking to elected officials to bring down costs, as 68% say that providing affordable healthcare should be a political issue. Healthcare is the second most important issue to those surveyed, next to the economy in the upcoming presidential election.

Among the other results: 18% didn't know when open enrollment takes place; 21% didn't think the Affordable Care Act was still in effect; 62% pay under $250 a month on their health insurance premium; 25% don't think that Republicans, Democrats or the private sector have the answer to bring down healthcare costs; and 40% of those insured are experiencing rising monthly healthcare premiums.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

Health coverage, and how to pay for it, have been a hot topic of debate politically, especially among Democrats vying for the White House. But while candidates are clamoring for change, Americans are still signing up for ACA plans.

New results from a separate survey conducted by eHealth show that consumers not receiving government subsidies to lower their premiums are more likely to switch health plans during the ACA's current open enrollment period.

Nearly eight in 10 respondents (79%) intend to review their 2020 coverage options before December 15, while 42% of those not receiving government subsidies say they're likely to switch to a new plan, compared to 35% of subsidy recipients.

Meanwhile, 76% of those receiving government subsidies express satisfaction with their monthly premium, compared to 33% of those not receiving subsidies.

The nationwide open enrollment period for 2020 health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to continue through December 15. For many consumers, this may be their only chance to review their coverage options and pick a new individual or family plan for the year.

THE LARGER TREND

In week one of the 2020 open enrollment, 177,082 people selected plans using the Healthcare.gov platform. As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday, which means that week one was only two days long this year -- from Friday to Saturday.

Of those making plan selections, 48,923 are new consumers, while 128,159 were renewing their coverage. In total, there were 1,184,305 Healthcare.gov users logged over the first week's two-day span.

In a year-over-year comparison, 371,676 consumers made plan selections during the first week of 2019 open enrollment, about 89,000 of them new. It should be noted, however, that the first week of 2019 open enrollment encompassed three days instead of two -- Thursday through Saturday. More than 282,000 people renewed their coverage at that time.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com