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Millions of Consumers in Need of Help with Open Enrollment

Survey of 20,000 Americans finds concerns about premium costs & out-of-pocket costs; Resources now available to help consumers “PREP”

 
Washington, D.C. (October 27, 2016) – The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), an internationally-recognized organization committed to raising awareness about chronic disease, reminds consumers to PREP - Prepare, Review, Evaluate and Pick – during November’s open enrollment season to ensure they have health care coverage that best meets their needs in the most cost effective manner.
 
According to a recently released national PFCD survey examining more than 20,000 Americans’ concerns about their health care and coverage:

  • Seven in 10 consumers report they or someone they know have had difficulty using their health insurance coverage in the past year;
  • Consumers’ top concern is premium costs and its impact on family budgets;
  • Consumers want a better understanding of their true out-of-pocket costs before receiving care.

“It is often hard to find all the relevant information when choosing a health plan, particularly for the increasing number of Americans with one or more chronic conditions and unique health care needs that demand appropriate coverage in order to avoid surprise medical bills and questions at the point of care,” said PFCD Chairman Ken Thorpe, Ph.D. “Too many Americans have difficulty accessing the care they need and want greater upfront transparency about the cost of their insurance. That’s why we are providing information to help Americans choose a plan that provides them with the right coverage and care as they work hard to achieve both physical and fiscal health for their families.”

To address some of the difficulties faced by consumers, PFCD has developed tips to help navigate open enrollment. Whether consumers’ plans are offered through their employer, as part of the health insurance marketplace or another source, PFCD says it’s important to PREP – Prepare, Review, Evaluate and Pick:
 
Prepare by noting important dates and compiling pertinent information. 

  • Know when your open enrollment period is. Check with your employer or make note of health insurance marketplace open enrollment that begins on November 1. 
  • Gather all of your personal health care information, such as lists of current doctors, preferred specialists, hospitals and pharmacies, and the list of medicines you and your family need.

Review all of your options carefully. 

  • Insurance plans can change dramatically from year to year. It is important to identify upgrades plans may offer or restrictions that will affect you and your family. Our survey found that voters overwhelmingly believe lawmakers should focus on managing premium increases and lowering co-pays and deductibles. All of these impact out-of-pocket costs and should be reviewed when selecting a plan.
  • Think about your family’s changing health care needs and compare them to each plan’s offerings.

 
Evaluate the factors that make some plans better for you and your family.

  • Knowing which options are offered by a plan can make a big difference in what you pay. Also, know what the terminology being used means. Learn the difference between a Co-Pay and Coinsurance. 
  • Be sure to consider all of the options in a health plan: the network of providers and deductible amounts (and what it applies to) before coverage begins. Are your doctors, specialists and hospital covered? Is your preferred pharmacy in network? Our survey also noted the more consumers know in advance about their out-of-pocket costs, the easier it is to access the care they need.

Pick a plan that best meets your needs in the most cost effective manner.

  • Half of all Americans cite affordability of care as their biggest concern about health care. At the same time, more than a quarter feel their insurance coverage has gotten worse in the last year. Consider all of your costs – premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket copays or coinsurance - and choose accordingly.
  • After preparing, reviewing and evaluating, still unsure what to pick? Call your company’s human resources department, the plan you are considering or your state insurance commissioner to ask additional questions or to voice your concerns. 

 
For more information about open enrollment or PFCD’s recently released national survey, visit http://www.fightchronicdisease.org/.
 
Read our factsheet on "What to Watch For During Open Enrollment for 2017," here
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is an international coalition of hundreds of patient, provider, community, business and labor groups, and health policy experts, committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability and rising health care costs: chronic disease. Learn more by visiting www.FightChronicDisease.org.