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Many consumers blame insurers for ACA exchange exits, GfK says

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Some U.S. consumers blame the government for problems with the 2017 Affordable Care Act public exchange plan menus, but more blame the insurers.

Related: 3 ways the ACA individual health market foundation cracked

Analysts in the New York City office of GfK S.E., a German market research firm, have reported that finding in a summary of results of a survey of 921 U.S. consumers who had health coverage in August, when they were polled.

Forty-eight of the people in the sample, or 5.2 percent, said they had ACA exchange coverage.

Thirty percent of the participants said the government is to blame for the ACA problems, but a total of 67 percent said insurers are at least partly to blame: 42 percent said insurers share responsibility for the problems with the government, and 15 percent said the insurers alone are to blame.

When GfK asked why the exchange program is having problems, 16 percent agreed that, “the ACA approach to paying for care just doesn’t work”; 17 percent agreed that, “not enough young, healthy people are signing up”; and 18 percent agreed that, “insurance companies are losing more money than they can afford to.”

Thirty-six percent chose the option, “insurance companies are putting profits before people.”

The popularity of the reasons for the ACA exchange problems varied dramatically by income category.

Only 21 percent of the participants with less than $25,000 in household income accused the “profits before people” option, but about 44 percent of the participants in the $25,000-to $75,000 income saw insurer greed as the main problem.

Liz Reyer, a health insurance specialist at GfK, said health insurers need to explain their side of the story better.

“While insurance companies need to keep track of their immediate viability, they also should recognize that the long-term battle over perception may not be going their way,” Reyer said in a statement about the survey results.


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