Most Americans have never bought health insurance online and are unfamiliar with health insurance exchanges -- the online marketplaces where individuals and small groups will purchase coverage in 2014.
A new survey by Connecture Inc. found that only 29 percent of the 1,285 consumers polled understand what a health insurance exchange is, and 86 percent have never purchased a health plan online. Connecture, a Milwaukee area-based software company, provides Web-based information systems to create health insurance exchanges.
The exchanges will open in 2014, when virtually everyone will be required to have health insurance, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Almost half of respondents say they will need help throughout the process of buying health insurance. Eighty-seven percent say they are somewhat or likely to email their requests for help while shopping online for health insurance, and 75 percent are likely or somewhat likely to participate in an online chat. About half are likely or somewhat likely to share their screen with customer service representatives.
Exchanges reduce the costs associated with buying health insurance, according to Connecture.
"It cannot, however, be overemphasized how important it is that they be built correctly and deliver an effective user experience for those that are purchasing health insurance online for the first time," Connecture President Dan Maynard said in a press statement.
Other findings in the survey include:
- Forty-nine percent don't know how much their households spend on health insurance each month.
- About 35 percent of people with job-based health insurance do not know how much of the cost their employers pay.
- Less than 25 percent include low premiums among the three most important things they consider when purchasing health insurance.
- Thirty-eight percent check whether a plan would allow them to keep their current doctors.
- Fifty-four percent think the quality and size of a plan's network is among the three most important factors to consider when choosing health insurance.