Most Non-Group Enrollees Choose Public Exchange Health Plans

Survey finds private exchanges lag in attracting non-group enrollees for health benefits.

When it comes to buying your own health insurance plan, cost is still king.

That’s the lesson from a new survey of non-group enrollees on their health benefits choices in the post-ACA world. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted the survey of a representative sample of nearly 800 adults who bought individual ACA-compliant coverage from a state health insurance exchange or from another source such as a private health insurance exchange.

Some 64 percent of the respondents purchased their health benefits from a state exchange this year. That’s up from 59 percent in 2015 and 48 percent in 2014, according to previous surveys conducted by the foundation. Only 19 percent of the respondents bought ACA-compliant coverage this year from a broker or insurance company.

When choosing where to buy coverage, price by far was the most important factor for individuals, according to the survey. Some 79 percent of the respondents said monthly premium costs were an “extremely important” or “very important” factor in their decision. That was followed by deductibles and copayments (66 percent); range of benefits or specific benefit covered (60 percent); choice of doctors and hospitals (59 percent); and recommendations from friends and family (18 percent).

Lack of access to employer-sponsored health insurance benefits was the primary reason cited by respondents for buying individual coverage through a state exchange, private exchange or another source. Some 31 percent of those surveyed said they were self-employed, and 28 percent were not employed. Another 21 percent said their employer didn’t offer coverage, while 18 percent said their employer did have a plan, but most chose to buy coverage on their own because it was cheaper.