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Republican anti-Obamacare talking points are biting the dust on a daily basis as the law takes hold. Here's another one: When enrollments kept racking up and a grand total of 8 million people signed up, Republicans sniffed that most of them weren't uninsured, so the law wouldn't really help solve that problem. A few months later, Kaiser Family Foundation deflates that trial balloon. Nearly six in 10 of the people in their latest survey who now have Obamacare were previously uninsured, and "[m]ost of this group say they had been without coverage for at least two years."
“There has been considerable debate about how many people signing up for coverage in the new exchanges were uninsured. Our survey reveals that the majority of people who enrolled in the new exchanges were previously uninsured,” Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said.
Beyond that, this survey [pdf] shows a mixed response among Obamacare customers. The survey is reflecting people's perceptions and experience with the law, rather than data from insurers or states. It's meant to reflect what people think about the law rather than the statistics behind it, and that shows some interesting fault lines. For example, the law is more popular with people who are eligible to buy under the law—who don't have group coverage through their employers and are more likely to approve the law than the general public. They slightly approve of it, 47 to 43 percent, while the rest of the public still disapproves of it by an eight-point margin, 46 to 38 percent. There's also some residual ill-feeling about the law among the people who had their previous non-compliant plans cancelled. Among them, 57 percent say the law had a negative effect on their lives, while just 34 percent say it has benefitted them. That's about the same amount of people in the whole group of new enrollees that say they benefitted, which compares to 29 percent overall who say the effect has been negative. And there are a lot of people who don't know.
Affordability is still a major factor for people. Those who received subsidies to help pay their premiums are the most supportive—60 percent of them say the law has helped them and their families, but cost is still a huge concern: "Nearly half of those in ACA-compliant plans say they’re not confident they would be able to afford to pay for a major illness or injury, over four in ten say it is difficult to afford their monthly premiums, and over six in ten say they are worried that their premiums will become unaffordable in the future."
There's the Achilles' heel for the law, one that's existed from back when we were fighting so hard for Medicare expansion or a public option. The American healthcare system is insanely expensive to run, and the costs will always trickle down to the consumer. There are still people—even with insurance—who feel that coming up with their annual deductibles in the event of an emergency is going to be difficult, who are still having a hard time coming up with premium payments even with subsidies. They're certainly better off with insurance than without, but healthcare reform isn't done yet.
Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 11:16 AM PDT.