Just 8.3% of North Carolinians Think Health Insurers Have Best Interests in Mind
Published November 17, 2022
North Carolinians blame health insurance companies more than any other part of the healthcare system for the rising costs seen in healthcare, according to a new joint poll from Meredith College and the North Carolina Center for Health and Democracy. While North Carolinians are mostly satisfied with their current health insurance provider, just 8.3 percent of North Carolinians feel that their health insurer has their best interest in mind.
“The Meredith Poll findings show us that North Carolina’s insurance companies consistently put up roadblocks to care and rely on a complicated process to maximize profits and reduce care for patients. Their strategy – denying millions of in-network claims in North Carolina annually and raising premiums while recording record profits – is why I left the health insurance industry more than a decade ago,” said Wendell Potter, founder of the Center for Health and Democracy and former Cigna executive. “Their greed-driven actions have life or death consequences and it’s time to shine a light on this broken system.”
This is reinforced by the significant portion of North Carolinians who have had a procedure not covered by insurance (23.1%), had a claim denied (20.1%), or had to go through unnecessary paperwork to get treatment (16%) in the last two years. In addition, those who had a procedure not covered, had a claim denied, or had to go through unnecessary paperwork had significantly lower satisfaction with their health insurer. In fact, almost three-in-four (73.6%) of those who had a claim denied reported feeling dissatisfied with their insurance company with most of those being extremely dissatisfied. Similarly, those who said they had a health procedure not covered by the insurance company or received a surprise bill also saw their dissatisfaction levels increase by a factor of two.
“The latest Meredith Poll findings show that while North Carolinians are satisfied with their current health insurance, those who have had to navigate the insurance process of denials have significant dissatisfaction in their health insurance company,” said Dr. David McLennan, professor of political science and director of the Meredith Poll at Meredith College in Raleigh. “It is no surprise that patient dissatisfaction with health insurance companies increases with claim denials, denied care, and complicated appeals.”
The key findings from Dr. McLennan and the Meredith Poll show North Carolinians face claim denials, lack of competition, and obstacles in their access to care:
- Almost a quarter of those surveyed with a denied claim were told that insurance companies stated that the claim wasn’t medically necessary.
- When comparing the numbers of claim denials and procedures not covered by insurance for North Carolinians in this poll with recent data from Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) on denials, North Carolinians are seeing higher denial rates than the national average. On average, KFF found that 18 percent of claims were denied across the country with 16 percent being denied because the claim was for an excluded service, 10 percent for lack of preauthorization, and only two percent for medical necessity.
- More than 42 percent of those surveyed said their private health insurance was the only option provided by their employer and only 26 percent reported being very satisfied.
Dr. McLennan partnered with the North Carolina Center for Health and Democracy to conduct the poll. The Center examines the status of health care in the state, educating patients, communities, and policymakers about the role health insurance companies have on costs, access, care outcomes, and the long-term sustainability of care for North Carolinians.
About Meredith Poll
The Meredith Poll asks North Carolinians their opinions on a variety of social and political public issues. It is housed in the Department of History, Political Science, and International Studies at Meredith College, one of the largest women’s colleges in the Southeast. The Meredith Poll was launched in the spring of 2015 as part of Meredith’s commitment to civic engagement.
About the North Carolina Center for Health and Democracy
The North Carolina Center for Health and Democracy examines the status of health care in the state, educating patients, communities, and policymakers about the role health insurance companies have on costs, access, care outcomes, and the long-term sustainability of care for North Carolinians. The Center provides publicly available data, information, and original analysis and is affiliated with the Center for Health and Democracy.