Quality ranks last when consumers consider health options

When it comes to shopping for health insurance, consumers say low costs trump quality three to one, according to a survey released Thursday.

HealthPocket, a website that compares and ranks health plans, looked at what factors would determine a consumer’s choice of a health plan if all offered the same benefits — a scenario researchers say will be made likely under health reform.

Nearly one in three respondents (32 percent) said a low monthly premium would be the deciding factor. Survey respondents also cited “plan acceptance by my doctors,” (22 percent); “a brand I know and trust,” (19 percent); and “my exposure to out-of-pocket costs” (17 percent).

Just 10 percent answered that consumer satisfaction and quality of the plan would be their top consideration.

HealthPocket CEO Bruce Telkamp said consumer choice should change under PPACA, assuming premiums and benefits are more uniform.

“The entire marketplace will be competing on a more level field,” Telkamp said. “People also will have access to information they have not had previously about how the plan really works. We expect that higher quality plans will over time dominate their markets.”

The InfoPoll survey of 900 people was conducted between May 22 and May 24.

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