The 2014 Nielsen Health Insurance Track is designed to gain a deeper understanding of consumers in a post-Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care system. The ACA, signed into law in 2010, appears to be working, as nine to 10 million newly insured consumers entered the system this year. And the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services projects growth of 6.2% from 2015 to 2022.
Many health insurers will likely find these numbers attractive and view the uninsured as an opportunity to bulk up their membership. The uninsured, however, especially those who have been so for most of their lives, pose a unique problem for insurers: there is little data available to describe them—not only in medical terms, but in lifestyle terms.
So in that way, it may not be ideal for insurers to cast a broad net to capture the uninsured seeking coverage for the first time. Rather, they should employ a refined process that stems from a foundational understanding of the uninsured consumer.
The 2014 Consumer Health Sentiments Report takes a closer look at the uninsured consumer to ascertain the opportunity and risk within the specific segment of the U.S. population.
From an initial review, it appears that there is a negative relationship between the number of chronic conditions one reports and health status. However, when considering the uninsured, it seems that they tend to report slightly fewer conditions across health status than their insured counterparts. Although the difference is typically marginal, the pattern occurs across all levels of the health status measure. This may indicate that the uninsured are actually healthier than the insured in terms of having few potentially debilitating costly diseases, or that the uninsured are not necessarily healthier and are undiagnosed without having an outlet to medical care.