WEAKENING U.S. ECONOMY TAKES TOLL ON AMERICANS'
New Research Reveals Consumers Reducing
Medical Visits to Save Money
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Aug. 12, 2008) - To
save money, many Americans are cutting back on medical care - potentially
putting their health at risk - according to new research from the National
Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
A national survey of 686 consumers, fielded in July, found that 22
percent of U.S. consumers say they have reduced the number of times
they see the doctor as a result of today's economy. Furthermore, 11
percent of consumers say they have cut back the number of prescription
drugs they take or the dosage of those medications to make the
prescription last longer.
"Delaying medical treatment and regular physicals puts consumers at
risk for potential health issues - and increases overall health insurance
costs," said NAIC President and Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy
Praeger. "It's critical that consumers continue to take
responsibility for their health, so that we can all benefit from
healthier lives and more affordable healthcare."
And, while consumers might be making budget cuts in other areas, the
NAIC's survey revealed that the vast majority have not reduced, cancelled
or otherwise made changes to their insurance policies.
"Insurance is an important - and oftentimes mandated - purchase for
most Americans," Praeger said. "That is why the NAIC and state insurance
regulators are committed to helping every American be a smarter insurance
Following is a summary of the key research findings:
- 80 percent of consumers have not made changes to their auto
- However, 7 percent of consumers reported changes. Of those,
4 percent reduced coverage, 2 percent fell behind on
payments and 1 percent cancelled their policy.
- 74 percent of consumers have not made changes to their
homeowners insurance policy.
- However, 5 percent of consumers reported changes. Of those,
2 percent reduced coverage, less than 1 percent fell behind
on payments and 3 percent cancelled their policy.
- 85 percent of consumers have not made changes to their
health insurance policy.
- However, 5 percent of consumers reported changes. Of those,
2 percent reduced coverage, 1 percent fell behind on payments and
2 percent cancelled their policy.
- 78 percent of consumers have not made changes to their
life insurance policy.
- However, 6 percent of consumers reported changes. Of those,
1 percent reduced coverage, 2 percent fell behind on payments and
3 percent cancelled their policy.
The NAIC offers tips for consumers on how to lower their insurance
premiums through its public education program, Insure U, at www.InsureUonline.org. The program is also
available in Spanish at www.insureuonline.org/espanol.
Tips to Help Consumers Lower Their Auto Insurance
- Consider safety devices if you're buying or leasing a new car. For
example, getting a car with anti-lock brakes, side air bags, automatic
seat belts and daytime running lights can help you save on premiums.
- Install anti-theft devices on your car, such as an alarm system or
global positioning system so that your car can be located if stolen.
Notify your insurance provider if you have these devices or have
recently installed them.
- Maintain a good driving record, as the number of accidents,
DWI/DUI citations, claims and tickets directly affect your
- Call your insurance provider and ask about eligible discounts such
as a multi-car discount, good grades (for students under 25 years of
age) and mature driver (for consumers between 50 and 65 years of
age) among others.
Tips to Help Consumers Lower Their Homeowners Insurance
- Install protective devices - such as a burglar alarm system, smoke
detectors and deadbolt locks. Notify your insurance provider if you have
these devices or have recently installed them.
- Consider consolidating your homeowners and auto insurance policies
with the same insurer, as you might be eligible for a multiple-policy
- Maintain a good credit history. Many insurance companies consider
credit history when determining how much to charge for insurance.
- If you can afford to pay for minor repairs out of pocket, you might
want to consider raising your deductible.
Tips to Help Consumers Lower Their Health Insurance
- If you're married and both spouses work at jobs that provide health
insurance, compare these policies and their costs to see which one best
fits your needs. Look beyond the monthly amount you must pay and closely
evaluate covered services, co-pay requirements, deductibles and
reimbursement levels so that you make the best choice for your family
and your pocketbook.
- Stay in-network when possible, making sure to get referrals and
pre-certifications as required by the plan.
- Keep all receipts for medical services, whether in- or
out-of-network. In the event you exceed your deductible, you might
qualify for a tax deduction for out-of-pocket medical bills.
- Consider opening a flexible spending account (FSA), if your employer
offers one, which allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars for
out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Tips to Help Consumers Lower Their Life Insurance
- Keep in mind that life insurance premiums generally increase with
- Stay healthy or get healthy. Insurance companies might review your
health habits and will consider certain behaviors, like smoking or
excessive drinking, when determining your premiums.
- Avoid risky behaviors. Dangerous hobbies - such as skydiving,
hang-gliding or rock climbing - will likely cause higher insurance
- Maintain a good driving record. The better your driving record, the
better rates you'll receive for life insurance.
"Insurance is one of the easiest ways that consumers can protect
themselves against significant financial loss, especially during difficult
economic times," said NAIC Acting Executive Vice President and CEO Andrew
Beal. "It's also important that consumers understand their insurance needs
and options. We urge them to visit Insure U to learn more."
Available at www.insureUonline.org, the Insure U curriculum provides
an introduction to the four basic types of insurance - auto, home, health
and life - along with tips and special insurance considerations for eight
life situations. The curriculum also provides information about how to
avoid being scammed by fake insurance companies selling fraudulent
insurance policies. Disaster preparedness and long-term care insurance
tips are also included. After reviewing the curriculum, consumers can
elect to take a short online quiz. Upon successful completion of the quiz,
consumers can print out an Insure U diploma.
For more information:
- Call the NAIC's toll-free hotline - 866-470-NAIC (6242) - to find
out how to contact your local insurance department.
- Visit www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm to link to your local
insurance department's Web site.
- Visit www.insureUonline.org for additional tips specifically
geared toward a variety of life situations.
About the NAIC
Formed in 1871, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is a voluntary organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. The NAIC has three offices: Executive Office, Washington, D.C.; Central Office, Kansas City, Mo.; and Securities Valuation Office, New York City.
The NAIC serves the needs of consumers and the industry, with an overriding objective of supporting state insurance regulators as they protect consumers and maintain the financial stability of the insurance marketplace. For more information, visit www.naic.org.
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