Retirement & Financial Planning Report

People who stay with one health insurance plan for many years tend to get no more satisfied with it over time, but neither do they grow much more dissatisfied–one reason for remaining in the plan in the first place–according to a study.

Sticking with the same plan for many years is a common trait among FEHB enrollees, particularly retirees; during annual open seasons, only about 5 percent of enrollees change plans.

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The Employee Benefit Research Institute, in studying persons who had remained in the same health care plan for at least 10 years, found that overall satisfaction peaks around the fifth year of enrollment and remains stable after that. There is a similar pattern with the individual aspects that make up the overall measure of satisfaction, such as with the information the plan makes available.

“When an individual initially enrolls in a new health plan, plan designs – especially those that differ from their prior coverage — can be confusing. As a result, it may take time for an individual to not only become familiar with their health plan, but it may take time for the various different incentives in a new health plan to impact member behavior,” it said.

The study did find some significant slippage after a long enrollment in enrollees’ “engagement” with their health insurance, as measured by factors such as checking quality ratings of doctors or hospitals before receiving care. But that “may merely reflect their familiarity with various options available to them.”