Most satisfied with health care law coverage, survey finds

Sandra Morris-Harvey (center) stands with her husband, Randy, and daughter, Ansley, at their Evans home. She says the health care law has worked well for her family.

 

 

Sandra Morris-Harvey is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act or its chief proponent, President Obama.

“I’m generally opposed to anything Obama has to offer” – and to most big government programs in general, she said.

But after she lost her job and her health insurance with it, she was able to get Huma­na insurance through the act for her whole family.

“It’s worked out well for us,” Morris-Harvey said, though she doesn’t believe that is true for many people and still fears negative consequences from it.

Most people who have gotten it seem to feel the same way about their coverage. A survey released Friday by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund found a high level of satisfaction with the coverage, the available providers and the ability to get in to see them.

More than 85 percent of those with the coverage say they are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with it, and more than nine in 10 said they were satisfied with the selection of physicians in the plan, which has been a concern for many who had reviewed those networks.

About one in five tried to find a new primary care physician and, of those, 77 percent said it was “very” or “somewhat” easy. Sixty percent said they were able to get an appointment with the new physician within two weeks, and 46 percent said they got an appointment within a week of seeking one, according to the report.

Of those who enrolled or who got new coverage through Medicaid, 53 percent had been uninsured and 60 percent of them had been uninsured for more than two years, said Sara Collins, the vice president for health care coverage and access at Commonwealth and the lead author of the report.

“It really does suggest that the law is reaching its intended target,” she said. “It’s helping people gain new coverage.”

More than 60 percent said they would not have been able to afford or even get access to care before their coverage, and that includes nearly half of those who had some form of previous health insurance, suggesting the new coverage was more affordable and had better protections than previous coverage that might have excluded pre-existing conditions, Collins said.

“That makes a big difference for people, particularly people who had a chronic health problem before enrolling,” she said.

Hanging over all of these plans in states such as Geor­gia that refused to set up their own state marketplace to enroll people is a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the legality of providing subsidies to help people pay for coverage through the federal marketplace.

King v. Burwell is expected to be decided this month and could affect 6.4 million people who received subsidies in 34 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, the group said.

In Georgia, that could affect 400,000 people, about nine in 10 of those who enrolled, who were paying an average monthly premium of $76, Collins said. Should the court strike down those subsidies, that could lead to sticker shock the next time people go to pay those premiums, she said.

“In August, that average premium would jump up to $353,” Collins said. “So for a lot of people it is going to be an unaffordable proposition and we will likely see many people in Georgia, especially healthy people, dropping their health plans right away.”

Those likely to continue paying it are more likely to be sicker, and that in turn could lead to even higher premiums not only in the marketplace but also in the overall individual insurance market in those states, she said.

“You could in fact have a situation where there are even fewer people covered in Georgia than before the law went into effect,” Collins said.

Morris-Harvey said she went without insurance for about three years before she enrolled last year and got a very affordable premium.

“We paid a penny a month,” she said, and that has gone up to about $12 per month this year. The family had been going to Christ Community Health Services and decided to stay with them, Morris-Harvey said.

“We like them so well we stayed there after we got insurance,” she said.

She has gone back to school to get a degree in computer science, and the school is working on getting her a new job with benefits including insurance.

While they are “hoping and praying” the court case doesn’t wipe out their coverage in the meantime, Morris-Harvey also is not about to change her philosophy about the need for government reform, nor is she about to change her political leanings because of the law.

“It’s not going to make me vote Democrat,” she said.

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