Health Reform WK-EDGE Majority are prepared for open enrollment season
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Majority are prepared for open enrollment season

By Lauren Bikoff, MLS

Overall, employees seem ready take advantage of their benefits this fall—but still expect live customer service when they run into issues.

The majority of Americans with health benefits (75 percent) said that they are prepared to select their health plan during this year’s open enrollment, according to recent research from UnitedHealthcare. The Consumer Sentiment Survey, containing responses from more than 1,000 U.S. adults, found that 51 percent felt "very" prepared, and 24 percent just felt prepared. In contrast, 19 percent said they felt unprepared for open enrollment: 9 percent felt "somewhat" unprepared, and 10 percent felt "very" unprepared.

When it comes to researching open enrollment, UnitedHealthcare found that 36 percent said they devote less than one hour to the process; 27 percent spent between one and three hours; and 23 percent said they spent more than three hours. The survey found that more than one-third of Americans now use the Internet or mobile apps to compare pricing for health care services, representing a steady increase in online comparison shopping over the last several years. Among all age groups, 20 percent said the Internet or an app is the first source they look to for information about health conditions or symptoms, including 30 percent of Millennials and one-quarter of Gen Z.

Additionally, 37 percent of respondents said they use the Internet to comparison shop for health care services—a 257 percent increase from 2012. Of those online comparison shoppers, 80 percent said the experience was "very" or "somewhat" helpful, and almost 40 percent said their online research had influenced a change in their health care facility, provider or both.

Despite increasing adoption of technology, many people still prefer support form a real person when it comes to addressing a specific issue or questions. The survey found that 66 percent said they preferred speaking with a live customer service representative for help or to resolve an issue with their health plan.

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