Even with the new health care options offered by the Affordable Care Act, many U.S. citizens are still uninsured or underserved due to obstacles not related to cost, such as technical problems and lack of information from health exchanges, according to J.D. Power’s “2014 Health Insurance Marketplace Shopper Study.”

The study, which examined enrollment satisfaction among 1,632 consumers who shopped for insurance under the ACA from November 2013 through April 2014, found that 40 percent of shoppers had problems completing the enrollment process. In addition, 19 percent said the application process took too long, and 18 percent said the website they were using did not have enough information about its plans for them to make a selection; shoppers were able to select multiple reasons during the survey.

 

The study ranked overall enrollment satisfaction at just 615 on a 1,000-point scale. Among age groups, the highest satisfaction score was posted by men under 50 with less than a four-year college degree (675); the lowest score came from women older than 50 (582).

The majority of consumers (67 percent) enroll online, but their overall satisfaction score was 597, some 122 points lower than those who enroll in-person, the least-used method (13 percent), according to the survey. Using a navigator or a certified agent/broker used by 17 percent of shoppers — also improves satisfaction (631 versus 611 among those who do not use a navigator or an agent/broker).

“Ensuring a technologically error-free experience, along with streamlining the online enrollment process, will be most impactful to future marketplace shoppers," said Rick Johnson, senior director of the healthcare practice at J.D. Power. "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."

Cost remains the key reason why consumers were unable to obtain health insurance in the past (89 percent), according to the study. Other reasons included pre-existing conditions (26 percent) and not knowing where to buy insurance (10 percent). 

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