It will take a while to understand fully how the Affordable Care Act affects the quality of health care and access to doctors in this country. But a new survey offers encouraging reviews from people who signed up for private plans or Medicaid during the first enrollment period from October 2013 through March 2014.
The survey, sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund, a research group that tracks health care reform, conducted phone interviews with some 4,400 working-age adults around the country from April 9 to June 2, shortly after the first open enrollment period ended. It found that 78 percent of the newly insured were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their new insurance. That included 73 percent of those who bought private health plans and 84 percent who signed up for Medicaid.
It seems that once people are enrolled, uncertainties or ideological opposition they might have to health reform largely melt away. Of the Democrats, 85 percent were happy with the new insurance, as were 74 percent of Republicans. By the beginning of June, 60 percent of the adults with new coverage said they had used their plans to go to a doctor or hospital or to fill a prescription, and 62 percent of that group said they would not have been able to afford care before getting this new coverage. More than half of the adults said their plan included all or some of the doctors they wanted. Only 5 percent said none of their preferred doctors were included in their plans.
Most of the newly insured people had no trouble finding a primary care doctor, and most waited less than two weeks for an appointment.
Many people who gained new insurance coverage reported that their health was fair or poor or that they had at least one chronic disease; most said they were better off now than before. Even those who had no health problems said they were better off. The reform effort is off to a very good start, especially in states determined to take full advantage of the new law.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE NEW YORK TIMES