Here’s the good news: 74 percent of people nationwide who enrolled in health insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges rate their coverage as excellent or good. That’s according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last Thursday.
Here’s the not so good news: There’s a better than even chance that many of those folks did not pick the plan that is best suited to their needs. As a consequence, they very likely will be paying more in premiums or out-of-pocket costs—or both—because their health-plan picking skills leave a lot to be desired. That’s according to a study published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
Unfortunately for those folks, they’ll keep paying more than they should. And they’ll not have a clue that they could be saving quite a bit of cash if they had the ability or took the time to become better insurance shoppers. That’s according to both organizations.
One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act was to make it easier for people to comparison shop for coverage. Prior to the availability of the exchanges created by the law, that was next to impossible for people who didn’t have access to employer-sponsored coverage. There was no single place to go to shop, and there were no requirements that health plans provide information in understandable language and in a format that enabled customers to make apples-to-apples comparisons. And of course there was another problem: before Obamacare, insurers wouldn’t sell them any kind of policy at any price if they’d been really sick in the past.
It’s little wonder, then, that the vast majority of people who have enrolled in health plans through the exchanges feel good about their selections, especially when you consider the way the health insurance world used to be. The marketplace is considerably more consumer-friendly today.
That said, buying coverage post-Obamacare is no walk in the park. It’s useful to think of the American health insurance marketplace, even with the consumer protections in the law, as a big casino—but without the ambience and excitement. And it’s also useful to think of many American health insurance shoppers as first- timers in Las Vegas. They might get lucky, but the odds are with the house.