Newly Insured Individuals Report Improved Financial Security and Access to Care, Some Struggle to Afford Coverage
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Newly Insured Individuals Report Improved Financial Security and Access to Care,
Some Struggle to Afford Coverage
November 10, 2014 (New York) – Ninety-two percent of New Yorkers who became newly insured under health reform (“Obamacare”) are completely or somewhat satisfied with their health insurance, according to a survey released today by the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth). By overwhelming majorities, they report feeling much more or somewhat more peace of mind (91%) and financial protection from big bills (78%). Almost nine in ten (88%) report that getting the health care they need is within their reach since getting health insurance coverage and they feel somewhat or much more confident (92%) that they will be able to get care when needed. Medicaid enrollees report even greater overall satisfaction levels compared with individuals who enrolled in private coverage options.
“New York State has led the nation in implementing health reform and expanding coverage,” said James R. Knickman, President and CEO of NYHealth, a private foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers. “Not only have we enrolled more than 1 million people, but they are happy with what they are getting. Improved access to care and financial protections are among the promises of reform that are becoming reality for New Yorkers.”
The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of NYHealth from October 9-26, 2014, with 250 residents of New York State ages 18-64 who gained health insurance through the New York State of Health Marketplace or Medicaid beginning October 1, 2013.
The survey is the first to document the actual experiences of previously uninsured New Yorkers who have gained coverage under health reform. It finds that New Yorkers are actively using their new coverage. For example:
• Three quarters (77%) have tried to schedule a doctor’s appointment since getting their new insurance.
• Fully 84% have used their coverage to get a range of health or medical services including preventive care, primary care, prescription drugs, care for chronic conditions, and dental care.
• Among those who used their coverage to access services, 89% report that having insurance made it easier to get that care.
Although access to care is generally strong, some respondents report encountering barriers. Among respondents who tried to make a doctor’s appointment since getting their insurance:
• One in five (18%) report it was very or somewhat difficult to find a doctor’s office or a clinic that takes their insurance;
• One in four (23%) report it was very or somewhat difficult to find a doctor’s office or a clinic that would accept them as a new patient.
The survey finds mixed results regarding the affordability of coverage, and the cost burdens are greater for those with private coverage than for Medicaid enrollees. Thirty-eight percent of all respondents report that they stretch their household budget “some” or “a lot” to pay their health insurance premium. This figure rises to nearly two-thirds (62%) among those with private coverage. Only 27% of respondents with private coverage rate their monthly premium as “very affordable” compared with 88% of Medicaid enrollees who do so. Despite these concerns, health insurance appears to be a priority household purchase. Ninety-three percent of all respondents are somewhat or very confident that they will be able to afford their premium payment each month.
“This survey provides the first evidence of how New Yorkers feel about their new health coverage and the response is an enthusiastic thumbs-up,” said David Sandman, Senior Vice President of NYHealth. “There is no substitute for listening directly to consumers. They are saying they can rest easier at night knowing they can get health care and not bankrupt themselves if they get sick. For them, health reform is working.”
Maintaining enrollment and signing up new individuals and families will be key to the continued success of health reform in New York. With the next open enrollment period beginning November 15, 2014, virtually all (92%) respondents are at least somewhat likely to renew their coverage. However, four in five (79%) expect they will need at least a little help to renew their coverage. Similarly, 81% got help when they enrolled for the first time from the New York State of Health website or call center, family or friends, a hospital or doctor’s office, a navigator or application assister, brokers, or other sources. Three-quarters (77%) would recommend getting coverage through the New York State of Health marketplace or Medicaid to a family member or friend.
The New York Health Foundation (NYHealth) is a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. Today, NYHealth concentrates its work in three strategic priority areas: expanding health care coverage, improving diabetes prevention, and advancing primary care. The Foundation is committed to making grants, informing health care policy and practice, spreading effective programs to improve the health system, serving as a neutral convener of health leaders across the State, and providing technical assistance to its grantees and partners.
In the second year of open enrollment under the ACA, there is still a high need for direct assistance and face-to-face support to help individuals enroll in health insurance. Learn more about NYHealth’s range of outreach and enrollment efforts.
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