Americans Dread Health Insurance Shopping Despite Exchange Improvement

The federal government may have made strides to improve the health insurance exchanges since last year's open enrollment, but a majority of Americans view shopping for health insurance as just as bad as or worse than doing their taxes.

The federal government may have made strides to improve the health insurance exchanges since last year’s open enrollment, but a majority of Americans view shopping for health insurance as just as bad as or worse than doing their taxes, according to a survey from Bankrate.com.

Despite the difficulty and pain of researching and choosing a new health plan, it is better to go through it now rather than being surprised by an unexpected hospital visit and unsure how to pay the costs, according to Doug Whiteman, Bankrate.com insurance analyst.

"Shopping for health insurance can be complicated, but it's one of the most important decisions you can make," Whiteman said in a statement. "If you have the wrong coverage or no health insurance at all, you could be just one illness or injury away from massive medical bills."

Overall, Americans are still pretty unhappy with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Just 16% want to keep the law as it is and 49% want major or minor changes to be made. Since last year, fewer Americans are looking to repeal the law completely, down to 26% from 30%.

A third (32%) of Americans feel “more negative” than a year ago about the ACA’s impact on their own healthcare, while just 15% feel “more positive,” Bankrate found.

The survey also found that a plan with a high deductible and a low monthly premium is preferred (44%), especially for those making more money. More than half (52%) of Americans making at least $50,000 a year would choose a plan with low premiums compared with just 39% of those earning less. Nearly half of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 choose similarly.

"While a low health insurance premium can be very attractive, you don't want to make the mistake of focusing too much on your monthly payment," Whiteman said. "Especially for older Americans who may require more doctor visits than their younger counterparts, a low premium/high-deductible plan could actually cost more in the long run."