Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 8:20 EDT

New Yorkers Prioritize Doctor Access Over Having Lowest-Cost Health Plan, New Survey Shows

September 10, 2013

Survey Data Show Ease of Making Appointment Cited #1 as “Very Important” by more than 4,200 Adults Eligible for NY State Health Plan Marketplace

BRONX, N.Y., Sept. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — New Yorkers are savvy consumers when it comes to discerning the most important services offered by a health insurance plan. A recent survey of more than 4,200 adults throughout New York City and surrounding counties, conducted by the academic polling group at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, shows that consumers rate health insurance needs including ease of making an appointment and having many doctors to choose from as “very important” more frequently than having the lowest cost plan available.

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Findings from the survey highlight the importance of access to doctors; when asked where respondents get information about healthcare in general, the most common response was ‘from my physician’ (27%). The next most common responses were ‘from a friend or relative’ (12%) and ‘from Google’ (11%), demonstrating that doctors and community take priority over technology when it comes to choices about personal and medical care.

                 NY Area Respondents' Importance Rating on Health-Plan Selection

                                       Percentage of
                                       respondents who
                                       ranked attribute
                                       "very important"

     Health                            Non-Affinity Members Eligible   Current Affinity Members
      Plan                             for NY Health Plan               (2,158)
      Attribute                        Marketplace (2,110)
     ----------                       ------------------------------  -------------------------

    Easy to
     get an
     appointment                                                  86%                        88%
    ------------                                                 ---                        ---

    Has many
     from                                                         79%                        84%
    --------                                                     ---                        ---

    Has good
     service                                                      72%                        82%
    ---------                                                    ---                        ---

     about me
     as a
     person                                                       83%                        81%
    ---------                                                    ---                        ---

     available                                                    60%                        73%
    ----------                                                   ---                        ---

“Ensuring access to quality health care, when and where and how consumers need it, must be at the heart of every health plan’s mission,” said Bertram Scott, CEO, Affinity Health Plan. “From Middletown to Mattituck to Morris Park, this New York area survey underscores what people in our communities want and need – the ability to see a doctor as quickly as possible, in a convenient location, and to discuss health needs in their native language. Many new health plan options will become available on October 1 with the new Health Plan Marketplace – some with doctor networks as large as 33,000; others with networks of just 9,000. That difference could have a huge impact on consumers’ ability to access needed care.”

The independent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll, supported by Affinity Health Plan, included 4,268 adults and was conducted by telephone with both landline and cell phones across 10 New York State counties (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau, Orange, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester), in English, Spanish and Chinese, as needed, between April 15 and May 15 of 2013. Respondents included 2,110 adults eligible for health coverage on the NY Health Plan Marketplace and 2,158 current Affinity members.

“New York area residents were very vocal in conversations with our survey staff on what matters to them when choosing a health plan,” said Rich Higginson, Director of Consumer Research, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind. “Survey results like these can be important in helping health plans understand current and future customer needs.”

“Affinity is gratified that the PublicMind survey data affirm our customer-service commitment to ensure our members have extensive access to health professionals and fast appointment setting – why have health insurance if it’s not usable when and where you need it?” reflected Scott. “Through the years, we have built a physician-provider network that more than doubles the networks of other plans available to consumers in New York City and surrounding counties.”

Plan choice will soon be a pressing consumer mandate, as more than 1 million New Yorkers are anticipated to receive health coverage through the New York Health Benefit Exchange, known officially as NY State of Health: The Official Health Plan Marketplace. Helping them prepare for the NY Health Plan Marketplace open enrollment period, which lasts from October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014, Affinity Health Plan will participate at a number of upcoming community events to share important information about the Exchange, answer questions, and share what other New York residents express as important to health plan choice:

    --  September 14 - Brooklyn: Day for Kids at Boys and Girls Club of the
        Bellport Area
    --  September 20 - Chinatown, Manhattan: Chinese Chamber Mid-Autumn Festival
    --  September 21 - Bronx: National Council of Negro Women Health Fair
    --  September 21 - Newburgh: Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center
        Health Fair
    --  September 22 - East Meadow:  Hispanic Heritage Night at Eisenhower Park
    --  September 29 - Brooklyn: HABNET Membership Appreciation Day
    --  October 19 - Manhattan: WPIX Health and Wellness Expo, Javits Convention

About Affinity Health Plan

Affinity Health Plan is an independent, not-for-profit organization offering quality health care coverage to underserved New Yorkers. Affinity is proud to be an approved health plan for NY State of Health: The Official Health Plan Marketplace, and to continue providing programs sponsored by New York State Medicaid managed care and Medicare. Founded in 1986, Affinity serves members in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties. For more information, visit www.affinityplan.org or follow Affinity on Facebook and YouTube.

PublicMind Survey Methodology

The survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind was conducted by telephone from April 15 through May 15, 2013, across two sample populations totaling 4,268. (1) A total of 2,110 interviews were completed among a population of potential members (i.e., adults eligible for health insurance coverage on the NY Health Benefit Exchange) within Affinity’s ten county reach (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau, Orange, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk, Rockland, and Westchester). A random sample was pulled based on county and household income. Single member households had incomes between $15,875 and $28,725, while larger households had incomes ranging between $15,865 and $58,875. (2) A total of 2,158 interviews were completed among a population of current Affinity Health Plan members. Affinity provided a list of current members to PublicMind, including the member’s first name, county of residence and phone number.

For both groups, the sampling error is approximately +/- 2.1 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. The same questionnaire was used across respondent groups, and was translated and administered in Spanish and Chinese as needed. Interviews lasted approximately 11 minutes. Survey results are subject to non-sampling error. This kind of error, which cannot be measured, arises from a number of factors including, but not limited to, non-response (eligible individuals refusing to be interviewed), question wording, the order in which questions are asked, and variations among interviewers.

SOURCE Affinity Health Plan

Source: PR Newswire