Most Residents Used Websites To Learn About ACA Exchange Plans

June 10, 2014 in News

The majority of U.S. residents used websites to obtain information about plan options on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, according to a new data brief, Health Data Management reports.

Data Brief Details

The data brief was produced by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center and released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Kalish, Health Data Management, 6/9).

For the brief, researchers analyzed data from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey conducted near the end of the ACA’s initial open enrollment period in March 2014. The survey included a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults ages 18 to 64.

Data Brief Findings

According to the data brief, most people used a website to find out more information about exchange health plans, but information sources varied by race and ethnicity, among other factors.

Specifically, the brief found that:

  • 81.8% of white, non-Hispanic U.S. residents used a website to find out more about health plans offered through the exchanges, compared with 81.4% of non-white, non-Hispanic residents and 60.6% of Hispanic residents;
  • 30.9% of white, non-Hispanic residents used direct assistance services, such as call centers or navigators, to learn more about the plans, compared with 32.8% of non-white, non-Hispanic residents and 39.8% of Hispanic users;
  • 11.3% of white, non-Hispanic residents used indirect or informal assistance, such as friends or health care providers, compared with 17.6% of non-white, non-Hispanic residents and 24.6% of Hispanic residents; and
  • 13.6% of white, non-Hispanic residents relied on newspapers, TV or other media for information, compared with 14.9% of non-white, non-Hispanic residents and 14.9% of Hispanic residents.

Similarly, the brief found that information sources varied by gender, with:

  • 78.7% of men using websites, compared with 77.1% of women;
  • 27.2% of men using direct assistance services, compared with 37.6% of women;
  • 12.7% of men using indirect or informal assistance, compared with 17.1% of women; and
  • 16% of men relying on media, compared with 12.6% of women.

The brief also found that U.S. residents in different age groups reported different information sources. For example:

  • 79.2% of residents ages 18 to 34 used websites, compared with 78.8% of those ages 35 to 49 and 75.7% of those ages 50 to 64;
  • 21.9% of residents ages 18 to 34 used direct assistance, compared with 34.1% of those ages 35 to 49 and 43.2% of those ages 50 to 64;
  • 14.8% of residents ages 18 to 34 used indirect or informal assistance, compared with 15.9% of those ages 35 to 49 and 14.8% of those ages 50 to 64; and
  • 11.9% of residents ages 18 to 34 relied on media, compared with 13.4% of those ages 35 to 49 and 16.9% of those ages 50 to 64.

In addition, the data showed that some people used multiple information sources, with:

  • 50.4% of U.S. residents saying they used only websites;
  • 29.1% saying they used websites and other information sources; and
  • 20.6% saying that they used only other information sources (Balvin et al., Urban Institute data brief, 6/9).

Katherine Hempstead — head of coverage issues at RWJF — said that the findings on “consumer patterns and preferences can help improve” how information is disseminated during the “next open enrollment period” (Health Data Management, 6/9).

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