Study: Americans Turn To Technology To Evaluate, Access Health Care, 25%+ Would Rather File Taxes Than Buy Health Insurance

NEW ORLEANS – As Louisiana residents enter this fall’s open enrollment season, UnitedHealthcare has worked with an independent polling firm to uncover Americans’ knowledge and opinions about a range of health topics.

         The 2017 UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey reveals Americans’ attitudes about five key health care topics: open enrollment, technology trends, health literacy, customer service and the future of Medicare.

         The results, which were officially announced on Thursday, Oct. 5, include:


• More Americans are turning to technology first to access health information and care. A growing number (42 percent) said they would be likely to use telemedicine in the future to access care, a five-percentage point increase from 2016.

• Most people underestimated the connection between lifestyle choices and disease and the connection between modifiable lifestyle choices and chronic conditions, with just 23 percent of people correctly recognizing that 80 percent or more of premature chronic conditions are linked to controllable decisions such as smoking or poor diet.      

• Many people say they are prepared for open enrollment. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of people said they are prepared for open enrollment, while 22 percent said they are unprepared.

• Understanding of basic insurance terms slightly improved. Just nine percent of respondents successfully defined all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum. That’s a slight improvement from seven percent a year ago.

• When it comes to customer service, people prefer live support. Most people (84 percent) preferred speaking with a customer service representative, up from 78 percent last year.


         The UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey also revealed that more than a quarter of people would rather file their taxes, get their teeth cleaned or renew their driver’s license than select a health benefits plan during open enrollment. Reps with UnitedHealthcare said Louisiana residents looking for health insurance can make more informed decisions and experience a smoother open enrollment process by considering the following tips:


Take time to review your options: Start early and use your employer and health plan representatives to get your questions answered. Remember there’s more to each plan than co-payments, deductibles and premiums. Check to see if your doctor is in the plan’s care provider network and that your prescriptions are covered.

• Look for incentive-based wellness programs: Some health plans offer wellness programs that enable people to earn financial incentives, such as lower premiums or deductible credits, for completing health assessments, signing up for a health coaching program, lowering cholesterol, going to a gym or even using a fitness tracker to monitor daily walking patterns. These incentives can help save you money, in some cases up to $1,500 a year.

• Take advantage of health care apps and online resources: Many health plans have created apps and online resources to help people locate a health care professional or check if their doctors are in-network, compare treatment costs, review claims and find more information about their health plans. One public resource, the Health4Me app, enables anyone to comparison shop for health care based on quality and cost. 

Open a Health Savings Account (HSA): HSAs offer a triple tax advantage: money is deposited pre-tax from your paycheck and accrues interest tax-free, and withdrawals are not taxed as long as funds are used for qualified health-related expenses.

• Don’t overlook other important benefits: Specialty benefits, such as dental, vision, accident or critical illness insurance plans, are usually affordable options that can help protect you and your family from head to toe.


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