Exchange shoppers focus on price tag


Thanks to offering the lowest, across-the-board premiums on New York's health exchange, Health Republic Insurance of New York gained more market share than BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health and Univera Healthcarem, the McClatchy-Tribune reported.

More Western New Yorkers shopping through the NY State of Health chose low-priced plans from a new nonprofit cooperative than more expensive plans provided by dominant insurers.

Price continues to be a main concern for customers shopping for individual plans on exchanges across the country. Many Americans pick the cheapest plans while those still uninsured cite cost as the main reason for not enrolling on the exchanges, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

"I think historically health insurance has been a price-sensitive purchase. So it's not surprising that the lower-cost plans did better initially," Donald R. Ingalls, vice president for federal and state relations for BlueCross BlueShield, told the McClatchy-Tribune.

But insurers need to emphasize that smart coverage decisions involve more than price, according to the article. Consumers need to consider factors other than the sticker price when choosing coverage during the next open enrollment period, such as whether their doctor is in network, customer service, overall benefits and value-added benefits, according to Independent Health Chief Marketing Officer Nora K. McGuire.

Recognizing the importance of provider networks to enrollment decisions, some states are urging insurers to add more doctors to their networks before the next open enrollment. For example, after California's insurance agency received hundreds of consumer complaints about being forced to find a new physician, the state asked insurers to expand their networks. 

The first round of health insurance exchange enrollment also showed that better customer service can enhance sign-ups. That led Covered California to hire hundreds of new customer service workers, many of whom were bilingual.

For more:
- read the McClatchy-Tribune article

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