Covered Calif. Enrollees Struggle With Premiums, but Like Coverage
More than 40% of Covered California enrollees struggle to pay their monthly insurance premiums, but the majority are satisfied with their coverage, according to a survey released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The survey, conducted between September 2014 and December 2014, included responses from 4,555 Californians with:
- Coverage through Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program;
- Covered California policies;
- Other forms of private coverage; and
- No insurance.
According to the survey, 44% of Covered California enrollees said they had a hard time affording their monthly premiums. In comparison, 25% of adults with employer-sponsored or other private coverage said they struggled to pay their premiums (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/29).
Meanwhile, more than one-third of newly insured respondents said they delayed or skipped care because of cost.
Further, about 25% of Covered California enrollees said their medical bills were higher than expected. However, 84% said they had no problems paying such bills.
Still, many newly insured Californians seemed to be using their coverage, according to the survey. Specifically:
- Nearly 60% of respondents said they received at least one medical service; and
- Nearly 50% said they obtained a check-up (Gorman, Kaiser Health News, 5/29).
Consumers also reported high satisfaction with their health plans, with:
- 74% of Covered California enrollees saying their coverage was excellent or good; and
- 88% of consumers with non-exchange private insurance plans rating their coverage as excellent or good.
According to the survey, 91% of consumers with exchange coverage said it was easy to get care from their normal source (Los Angeles Times, 5/29). However, the survey also found that:
- 13% of Covered California enrollees said they had been turned away by a doctor;
- 8% of Medi-Cal beneficiaries were turned away; and
- 3% of other privately insured individuals were turned away (Kaiser Health News, 5/29).
Covered California Reaction
In a release, Covered California board member Genoveva Islas said, "This is the best current data, with good demographics on actual coverage," noting that it is "validation that Covered California is working" (Covered California release, 5/28).
Executive Director Peter Lee also said he was encouraged by the survey's findings. However, he noted that he was not surprised that Covered California enrollees and non-exchange consumers still face cost barriers to health care (Kaiser Health News, 5/29).
Lee said, "The Affordable Care Act is providing nobody with a free lunch," adding, "This issue of making health care affordable is not easy" (Los Angeles Times, 5/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.