Insights:

An Insure.com survey found that an employer’s health insurance plans often influences whether a person accepts a job and stays with the company. 

Open enrollment season for the Affordable Care Act exchanges and Medicare are in the fall, which is also when many employers start their annual processes of letting employees choose a health plan for the next year. 

During open enrollment, people can review their choices and see what’s best for their situation. The best health plan for you depends on your finances, providers and what you want from a health plan. 

Key Takeaways

  • A survey of 1,000 people in June 2021 found that 67% said a company’s health insurance coverage is important when deciding on whether to join a company or stay with a job.
  • Seventy-six percent said they are happy with their health plan, compared to 17% who aren’t satisfied.
  • Respondents said low premiums and a plan’s breadth of services are what’s most important when they decide on a health plan.
  • Premiums and prescription drug costs are the health care costs that have increased the most in recent years, survey respondents said.

There’s no one-size-fits-all plan. One person may prefer a restricted network of providers and pay less in premiums. Another may rather the lowest premiums possible with the understanding that they’ll pay more if they need care. Yet others want the largest provider network and fewest restrictions with the trade-off of higher premiums.

An Insure.com survey of 1,000 people in June 2021 found that 67% of those surveyed said a company’s health insurance coverage is important when deciding on whether to join or stay with an employer. Only 10% said a business’ health plan isn’t important at all. 

The survey also found that the vast majority of people with an employer-sponsored health plan are satisfied with their coverage. Seventy-six percent said they are happy with their plan, compared to 17% who aren’t satisfied. 

People like choice, but many employers are limiting health plan options. Insure found that employees often don’t have many choices. Here are the options mentioned by respondents in the past three surveys. 

How many choices did your employer give you when you were choosing a health plan?

No. of options 2021 2020 2019
Two or three options49%46%37%
One option — not a high-deductible plan26%27%34%
One option — a high-deductible plan19%21%16%
More than three6%7%8%

Find out more about workplace health insurance.

Premiums, prescription drug costs on the rise

Our survey found that premiums and prescription drugs are causing the biggest financial headache for health insurance members. When asked which health costs have increased the most over the past few years, respondents said:

  • Premiums — 30%
  • Prescription drugs — 28%
  • Deductibles — 19%
  • Doctor visits — 14%
  • Hospital visits — 9%

Premiums are the biggest financial pain point for people with employer-sponsored, individual health insurance, and Original Medicare. People on Medicaid and Medicare Advantage chose prescription drug costs as the expenses that have increased the most in recent years, according to the Insure survey. 

People with household incomes below $50,000 said prescription drug costs have increased the most, while those with higher incomes chose premiums.

What’s most important when choosing a health plan? 

Open enrollment is a great time to review your health and financial situation and figure out what’s the best option for you. We found that one-third don’t bother digging into the information and just choose the plan they had the previous year. 

When asked what they usually do during health insurance open enrollment, respondents said: 

  • Compare premiums and costs but that’s about it — 52%
  • Go with the same plan without looking at other options — 32%
  • Dig through each plan option — 16%

When it comes to what’s most important for people when they’re comparing health insurance plans, respondents chose low premiums and breadth of services the most. 

What’s most important for people when they’re comparing health insurance plans?

FactorImportance(%)
Low premiums28%
Breadth of services 26%
Low deductibles23%
Provider network13%
Not needing a referral (such as a PPO)10%

We found that respondents in the northeast chose breadth of services as what’s most important, while the south and midwest chose low premiums, and the west tied breadth of services and low premiums for what’s most important. 

Also, the survey discovered that breadth of services is more important for people making more than $100,000 than those who make less than that amount. People whose household income is below $100,000 are more interested in getting low premiums.

Not many enrolled in short-term health plans

The federal government have made it easier to get a short-term health plan

The low-cost/low-coverage plans are available to most Americans. Only people who live in states that forbid the plans don’t have the option. 

However, the survey found that more than half of people have never heard of short-term health plans. Almost one-third know about short-term health insurance but don’t plan on getting a short-term plan. Meanwhile, 13% said they plan to switch to a short-term plan next year and just 5% have already switched to a short-term plan. 

Despite efforts to get short-term health plans more into the mainstream consciousness, our annual surveys have found that more people say they’re not familiar with short-term plans than in previous years.

Lower-cost short-term health plans are available to Americans except those who live in states that forbid those plans. Have you changed to a short-term health plan?

Health plan status202120202019
Changed to a short-term plan5%6%4%
Plan to switch to a short-term plan next year13%14%9%
Don’t expect to change to a short-term plan31%32%45%
Never heard of short-term plans52%48%41%

Insure.com commissioned OP4G to ask 1,000 people in June 2021 about their health insurance.