Poll Captures Uninsured’s Experiences As Open Enrollment Nears End

Bianca DiJulio, Jamie Firth, Ashley Kirzinger, and Mollyann Brodie  KFF.org

Despite the ongoing debate between Republican lawmakers and President Obama on the future of the 2010 health care law, the January Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is only one of many issues that may impact voting decisions, with nearly a quarter (23 percent) saying it’s extremely important, but only four percent choosing it as the MOST important issue. Across all issues included in the poll, terrorism and the economy/jobs are the top two issues for voters at this point in the election. Across parties, the ACA does not rank higher than fourth in what voters say will be most important.

While there has been recent focus on improving the value of health care, those with insurance under 65 years old largely say the health care services they receive are at least a good value for what they pay for them (71 percent). In addition, despite recent attention in the media and among policymakers to narrow networks and limited provider choice, a large majority (87 percent) of the non-elderly with coverage are also satisfied with the choice of doctors available under their plan, and just 12 percent say they have had to change doctors in the past year because their doctor wasn’t covered by their health plan. Overall, most non-elderly Americans with insurance (74 percent) say that health insurance is worth the money it costs, and six in ten (61 percent) say their plan is an “excellent” or “good” value for what they pay for it.

In the final days of the 2016 open enrollment period, many uninsured are largely disengaged from the health care system and opportunities for coverage, with large majorities being unaware of the date for the upcoming deadline to enroll or of the fine for not having health insurance in 2016. While nearly half of the uninsured say they have been without coverage for two years or more, about 3 in 10 (28 percent) say that in the past six months they have tried to figure out if they qualify for Medicaid and 21 percent say they have tried to figure out if they qualify for financial assistance to purchase health insurance.

For the first time, Republicans in Congress sent a bill repealing the Affordable Care Act to President Obama’s desk that was subsequently vetoed in early 2016. While half of Americans say they followed news on this legislation closely, equal shares of Americans (39 percent) are aware of President Obama’s veto as are unaware of it. Additionally, public opinion of the health care law did not change significantly this month, with 44 percent of the public reporting an unfavorable view of the law and 41 percent reporting a favorable view.

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