The Affordable Care Act has been successful at achieving some major goals in the first year of its full implementation, according to a new study from The Commonwealth Fund.
There are three important findings from the study: The uninsured rate is dropping, most people like their new insurance plans (even Republicans!), and most people are finding it easy to visit a doctor.
The study found the uninsured rate in the U.S. declined by one-quarter over the last nine months, which included the law’s first, six-month open-enrollment period in which individuals could sign up for private insurance plans through exchanges established by the law.
From the July-to-September 2013 period to the April-to-June 2014 period, the uninsured rate of people between the ages of 19-64 dropped from 20% to 15%, according to the study. The research found 9.5 million people gained insurance, either through the exchanges or through the law’s expansion of the federal Medicaid program.
The decline in uninsured was seen across different age groups and races, though the drop was disproportionately high among the young (-10%) and Latinos (-13%). It was disproportionately low among African-Americans — the decline was only 1%.
The findings show the law has been successful at reducing the uninsured rate among the poor — which was, of course, one of its main goals:
Expectedly, there is a significant difference in the reduction of uninsured between states that have expanded Medicaid and those that have not. According to the study, the uninsured rate among residents who make up to 100% of the federal poverty level fell from 28% to 17% in the 25 states that have expanded Medicaid (plus the District of Coumbia). In the 25 states that haven’t, the rate only fell from 38% to 36%.
Among those who have become newly insured, the vast majority say they are “better off” and like their plans. In total, 58% of respondents with new plans said they are “better off” than before — including 61% who were previously uninsured. 79% of those who were previously uninsured said they were either “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their new plans.
Even 74% of Republicans say they’re at least somewhat satisfied with their new plans.
Significantly, most people who gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act said they couldn’t have accessed care they have received since obtaining insurance:
Finally: About one-fifth of people who have signed up for a new plan have attempted to find a new primary care or general doctor, and most — 75% — have said the process is at least “somewhat easy.” Two-thirds of those who found a primary-care doctor got an appointment within two weeks. 37% of people said their new plans included “most” of the doctors they wanted (about 39% don’t yet know).
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