Most Exchange Enrollees Previously Were Uninsured, Survey Finds
A majority of U.S. residents who purchased coverage through the new health insurance exchanges previously were uninsured, and many are concerned about the cost of coverage going forward, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released Thursday, the New York Times reports.
For the study, KFF from April 3 to May 11 polled 742 U.S. residents ages 18 to 64 who purchased their own coverage (Pear, New York Times, 6/19).
The survey examined several different groups, including those who:
- Purchased plans through the new exchanges;
- Bought plans outside the exchanges;
- Switched coverage; and
- Kept their previous plans (Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/U-T San Diego, 6/19).
Of the people surveyed:
- 60% said they were uninsured prior to purchasing coverage through the exchanges, 45% of whom lacked insurance for at least five years;
- 40% said they find it difficult to pay their premiums; and
- 60% said they feared insurance providers would raise premiums to a point where they could not afford coverage in the future (New York Times, 6/19).
However, 63% of people with exchange coverage said they were confident they could afford routine medical care, while 52% were confident they could afford costs related to a major accident or illness (AP/U-T San Diego, 6/19).
According to the Times, the survey also showed that many U.S. residents might not be aware they can receive federal help to offset the cost of exchange premiums. For example, 46% of respondents who purchased coverage through the exchanges said the government helped to pay premiums, which is much lower than the Obama administration's estimate that 85% of people are eligible for such subsidies (New York Times, 6/19).
The survey also found that individuals who purchased coverage through the exchanges because it was unavailable through their employment were more likely to have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, with 47% of such people holding a favorable view of the law and 43% viewing it unfavorably. In contrast, 38% of all U.S. residents view the law favorably and 46% view it unfavorably, according to Kaiser Health News. Further, the survey found 34% of enrollees reported having benefited from the law.
Meanwhile, it appears that most exchange enrollees feel their new coverage is worth what they are paying for it. For example, 71% rated their coverage as "excellent" or "good," while 55% said the coverage was an excellent or good value and 39% rated it as "only fair" or "poor" for what they pay.
Among respondents who switched plans because their previous coverage was canceled, 46% paid less for their new coverage, while 39% paid more (Appleby, Kaiser Health News, 6/19).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.