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Transamerica center finds big health sales gaps

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Only 18 percent of the remaining uninsured U.S. adults say they can easily afford routine health insurance and health care expenses, and their awareness of supplemental health insurance products that could help with out-of-pocket costs is low.

Just 38 percent of uninsured adults told a survey team they had heard of supplemental health insurance products, and just 35 percent described themselves as being very or somewhat familiar with the products.

Awareness of supplemental health insurance products was higher in the general population, but not that much higher: Only 45 percent of all adults said they were very or somewhat familiar with supplemental health insurance products. Twenty-five percent admitted that they were not at all familiar with the products.

When the researchers asked about accident insurance, a standard part of many benefits packages, 31 percent of the employed participants said they did not know whether they were offered that benefit. Thirty-six percent did not know if they’d been offered cancer insurance.

Related: Sally Pipes: Mind the ACA gaps

Analysts at the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, a Los Angeles-based research organization, reported those findings today in a summary of results from a recent web-based survey of 4,636 U.S. adults ages 18 to 64.

The center gets some of its funding from affiliates of Aegon N.V., a financial services company based in the Hague, in the Netherlands.

The center has been conducting similar surveys since 2013, shortly before many major Affordable Care Act insurance rules and programs came to life. It serves as an independent ACA performance tracker, because it has no direct connection with hospitals, physician groups, drug companies, or the kinds of Democratic-leaning think tanks that have supported the ACA.

Affordable Care Act tracker

The center found that the uninsured rate stood at 12 percent in September. That was up from 11 percent in September 2015, but it was down from 15 percent in July 2014, and it was down from 21 percent in 2013.

The share of participants with ordinary, private health coverage fell to 66 percent, down from 67 percent in 2014 and 2015, and down from 68 percent in 2013.

The share of participants with coverage purchased through an ACA exchange increased to 5 percent, from 4 percent in 2015, and from 2 percent in 2014.

About 4 percent of the participants in the latest survey were classified as “newly insured,” meaning that they’d gone from being uninsured to having some kind of health coverage within the previous 12 months. 

Only 14 percent of those participants said they got their new coverage through the ACA public exchange system. Thirty-five percent got covered by Medicaid, and 33 percent by an employer-sponsored group plans.

The center analysts found that a majority of participants feel their health coverage, health care costs and access to care have stayed about the same.

Newly insured people reported more trouble with paying for health care than the continuously insured but less trouble than the uninsured. 


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