As media interest in health insurance exchanges decreases over time, the insurance industry will need to develop more effective communications to reach the uninsured.

More than half (55%) of previously uninsured Americans who shopped for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act say they first heard about the marketplaces through the news media, while only 4% learned about them in a notification from a state or federal agency, finds a new enrollment satisfaction survey from J.D. Power.

“The exchanges have benefited from millions of media impressions derived from the ACA advertising and news coverage,” says Rick Johnson, senior director of the health care practice at J.D. Power. “When the dust finally settles later in 2014 and in 2015, for health insurance providers to thrive in this new environment, they will need to retool their marketing, information and enrollment efforts toward a new generation of uninsured to serve their needs.” 

The study of 1,632 U.S. consumers is designed to evaluate the health insurance shopping experience of the previously uninsured. Similar to other J.D. Power satisfaction surveys – health plans, pharmacies – satisfaction is ranked on a 1,000-point scale. Overall, HIX enrollment satisfaction averages 615 on the 1,000-point scale. Among those who have enrolled, there’s great variance in satisfaction depending on how they applied for coverage, the type of plan they selected, and their demographic. 

Also see: Satisfaction with mail-order pharmacies declines again

Although in-person was the least used method of enrollment, overall satisfaction is highest among the 13% of consumers who enrolled via this channel, at 719. Seventeen percent used a navigator to enroll and those who did so ranked their satisfaction at 631. Among the 67% of consumers who enrolled online, overall satisfaction is 597. Among the 14% who enrolled by phone, satisfaction is 623.

When analyzing by age groups, enrollment satisfaction is highest among shoppers younger than 30 (647) and lowers among those between the ages of 50 and 64 (591).

The key factors of enrollment satisfaction were the amount of time it takes to complete the enrollment process (cited by 23%), ease of enrolling (21%), variety of information available about the plans (15%), ease of understanding benefits and coverage (15%), ease of navigating the website (14%) and clarity of instructions (13%).

Also see: Satisfaction with health plan costs improving 

“No doubt that ensuring a technologically error-free experience, along with streamlining the online enrollment process will be most impactful to future marketplace shoppers,” says Johnson. “While the uninsured are now a smaller group, they continue to be underserved, just as they were prior to the exchanges, and continue to need more information delivered in an easy-to-understand and personal way.”

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