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New York, U.S.A. – As the Supreme Court readies for its ruling on the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes referred to as “Obamacare,” Americans have different opinions on components of the law, depending on the type of health insurance they currently have. Specifically, over half of U.S. adults who have purchased health insurance individually (54%) think employers should not be required to provide employee health insurance compared to only 28% of Americans with employer-sponsored insurance who think this. Additionally, over half of those with individual health insurance (55%) think the government should play a role in assuring access to health insurance, compared to almost two-thirds of Americans with employer-sponsored coverage (64%).
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,208 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) surveyed online between June 12 and 14, 2012 by Harris Interactive.
Two thirds of Americans (66%) agree that having health insurance should be a personal choice, so there may be some general disapproval of the ACA’s individual mandate. However, Americans do agree with some of the ACA’s other provisions. For example, over four in five U.S. adults agree that neither children nor adults should be denied health insurance if they have a pre-existing condition (83%) and nearly three-quarters of Americans agree that tax credits should be offered to individuals if they purchase their own health insurance (74%).
However, when looking at the data by the type of insurance respondents currently have, some distinct differences can be seen. Interestingly, among those that have individual coverage, almost half (46%) agree that all people do not need to be covered by health insurance, compared to 30% among those with employer-sponsored coverage and 36% among those that have no insurance at all. Those with individual insurance are also slightly less likely to agree (79%) that adults and children with pre-existing coverage should not be denied coverage, compared to those with employer-sponsored plans (86% adults; 85% children) and Medicare (82% adults; 83% children).
When asked to rate how important 11 different aspects of health insurance are, over nine in ten Americans say access to the doctors, hospitals and services they need is important (91%) while nine in ten say coverage for prescriptions (90%) and availability of insurance if they have a pre-existing condition (90%) are important. Those who have employer sponsored health insurance are more likely than those with insurance they have purchased themselves to say each of the 11 aspects is important when it comes to health insurance. Some of the larger differences are seen when looking at coverage for prescriptions (95% vs. 76%), coverage for preventative care (93% vs. 74%), and coverage for wellness programs (84% vs. 65%).
Additionally, when asked which two things are most important when it comes to health insurance, one aspect rises to the top – two in five Americans say one of the two most important aspects is access to the doctors, hospitals and services they need (39%). The next three are financial as about one-quarter of U.S. adults say financial protection from major health crises (27%), lower out of pocket costs (26%), and low premiums (24%) are most important.
“The importance of health insurance to the American consumer cannot be understated regardless of the opinion issued by the Supreme Court,” said Debra Richman, Senior Vice President of Healthcare Business Development & Strategy at Harris Interactive. “This is especially true for consumers who individually purchase health insurance plans, a market of growing significance to health insurers. It will be imperative for health insurers to increase their focus on how those in the individual market ‘consume’ health insurance, including what plan features they prefer, and what they will and conversely will not choose to buy. Financial protection from major health crises, access to providers, convenience, and quality will be key factors as individual health consumers make purchasing decisions, despite how the Supreme Court rules on the individual coverage mandate.”