Rising Health Insurance Premiums Loom Largest for eHealth Customers

The specter of continually rising premiums represents Americans’ biggest fear when it comes to the future of health insurance. That’s among the findings of a new eHealth survey shows.

The survey -- conducted in July with more than 800 customers who purchased Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plans on eHealth -- found that 53 percent of respondents were most worried about affordable premiums, while 13 percent were primarily concerned about deductibles and copays. 


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Other key findings:

  • 8 percent worry most about being denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions
  • 8 percent worry about losing their current plan
  • 7 percent are most concerned about losing access to preferred medical providers
  • 7 percent worry most about their benefits being reduced
  • 2 percent worry most about drug coverage

After years of sharp increases, premiums paid by people buying unsubsidized ACA-compliant plans have actually moderated this year. According to eHealth’s annual Health Insurance Index Report, the average monthly premium paid for individual plans selected by unsubsidized eHealth customers during the 2019 plan year was $448.

That represents an increase of just 1.8 percent over 2018. However, in the preceding three plan years, average individual premiums shot up by 16 percent, 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Since the inception of the ACA in 2014, average individual premium costs have increased 65 percent.

The average premium for all family coverage actually dropped 1 percent between the 2018 and 2019 open enrollment periods (from $1,168 to $1,154). Unsubsidized family premiums have nonetheless risen 73 percent since the ACA’s first open enrollment period in 2014 ($667 vs. $1,154).

Consumers want caps on drug costs

When it comes to possible solutions to rising healthcare costs, a majority of those surveyed (64 percent) want caps on drug prices to bring down the cost of care. Just over a third (34 percent) say doctors and hospitals should be paid less, while more than a quarter (27 percent) said the rich should be taxed more to subsidize the cost of care for others. Nine percent thought health insurers should charge more.

Those receiving subsidies to purchase ACA policies were more likely to approve of taxing the rich to make care more affordable: 42 percent of subsidy recipients thought wealthier Americans should subsidize the cost of care, compared to 30 percent of those not receiving subsidies.


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