Obamacare Exchanges Still A Bad Consumer Experience

The media have cheered the fact that Obamacare exchanges in 2015 operated better than 2014. It is one of the “achievements” that led them do declare “Mission Accomplished” for Obamacare.

Improvement over 2014 is a very low bar. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how the exchanges could possibly have performed worse this year. New research from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania concludes that the exchanges are still ineffective:


…… when users were provided with non-standardized plans sorted by price, an overwhelming 60% relied on a simple rule of thumb for making their selection: choose the plan with the lowest monthly premium. This emphasis on premium cost defeats the entire purpose of the exchanges.

The portals also came up short in helping consumers understand what they were purchasing. Research has shown that health insurance consumers have only a limited understanding of technical aspects of how health insurance works. In a study by the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Leonard Davis Institute, only 14% of consumers were able to correctly answer four multiple-choice questions about the most important terms in health care: deductibles, copays, premiums and maximum out of pocket costs

Comments (2)

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  1. Beverly Gossage says:

    Most of those folks went onto the site independently and/or used a navigator.

    Licensed agents have been trying to clean up the mess by helping people understand the moving parts, provider network, and Rx formulary of the plans that they have.

  2. Bob Hertz says:

    Beverly is right. For many years, most persons who bought individual health insurance sat down with an agent for an hour or more.
    The ACA has tried to move to a point and click approach, and agents are not paid enough to spend an hour.