According to a new survey of health insurance companies released today by eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) (eHealth.com), nearly all are making changes to help consumers impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus. A strong majority (97%) say they are waiving out-of-pocket costs associated with testing. Sixty percent of insurer respondents say they are currently offering some form of premium deferral program for those impacted by the coronavirus.
Additional highlights from eHealth’s survey:
- Few insurers anticipate raising 2021 premiums due to coronavirus: 83% of survey respondents say they do not anticipate raising rates for 2021 in response to the crisis, while 17% say they anticipate raising rates no more than 5% due to coronavirus. Eighty-seven percent of respondents offering Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans say it is unlikely they will leave the ACA market due to coronavirus.
- Increased utilization of telemedicine services: 96% of respondents say they are seeing increased demand for telemedicine services (virtual doctor visits). Eighty-five percent think the coronavirus crisis will drive increased demand for telemedicine services into the future.
- Most expect a spike in medical claims for elective or non-emergency services put off due to the crisis. 80% of respondents say they expect a spike in such claims when the coronavirus crisis is over. Seventy-three percent of those who anticipate a spike believe it will come within the next 6 to 12 months.
eHealth’s findings are based on a voluntary, anonymous survey of leading health insurance companies with whom eHealth has a business relationship. It was conducted between March 30 and April 2, 2020. Insurers invited to participate in the survey serve the individual and family and group health insurance markets and collectively insure millions of Americans nationwide. More than half of invitees participated and a total of 33 responses were received.
Consumers are advised to contact their own health insurance company to confirm if they will face out-of-pocket costs associated with COVID-19 testing or treatment, or to see if a premium deferral program may be available to them.