Survey says: Obamacare is working!

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Our guest post today comes from the New York State Health Foundation. The Foundation recently engaged Harris Poll to survey New Yorkers about their NY State of Health Marketplace insurance. Here, Senior Director of Communications Maureen Cozine gives us the scoop on their findings, which will help inform this year’s open enrollment period that ends February 15, 2015.

Guest post: Maureen Cozine, Senior Director of Communications, New York State Health Foundation

Over the last year or so, we at the New York State Health Foundation have heard lots of stories about New Yorkers who gained health insurance as the Affordable Care Act was implemented. We heard from our grantees and partners about people like Luis and Carmen (pictured with their enrollment counselor), who have more peace of mind now that Luis can get care for his neuropathy, diabetes, and heart problems. And Ben, a composer who can pay for the medications he needs. And Jerome, who was uninsured for years, but now has the Medicaid coverage he needs to see a doctor.

We loved hearing these stories and learning how Obamacare is working for these New Yorkers. But we wanted to get a better sense across the board of what newly-insured New Yorkers thought about their coverage: Are they satisfied with it? Are they using it? Can they get the care they need? Is the coverage affordable?

To find out, we asked Harris Poll to survey 250 New Yorkers who had enrolled in Medicaid or private health insurance plans through the NY State of Health Marketplace beginning October 1, 2013.

What we learned is that health reform is working in New York State. 92% of the respondents report being satisfied with their coverage. And they’re using their coverage; 84% said they have gotten services like primary care, prescription drugs, care for chronic conditions, and dental care.

Challenges remain. Roughly 20% of respondents said they had trouble finding a doctor who would take their insurance and/or would take on new patients. And nearly two-thirds of those with private coverage say they’ll need to stretch their budgets to afford their premiums.

92% of respondents say they’re likely to renew their coverage, but most will need some help. About 80% of people said they used help when they enrolled in coverage last year, and expect to need help again from the NY State of Health website or call center, a Navigator or other application assister, family member or friend, or another source. (The Foundation is proudly supporting a number of outreach and enrollment efforts throughout the State; these helped connect thousands of New Yorkers to coverage during the first open enrollment period.)

With the new open enrollment period now underway, we look forward to seeing even more New Yorkers getting the coverage and care they need!

 

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Last week, the NY Times’ The Upshot featured an interactive look at new coverage data from Enroll America and data firm Civic Analytics. According to the data, roughly 10 million people gained coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act. What’s exciting about the data is that it provides a much closer look at who the newly insured might be and where they may live.

The article is accompanied by a colorful map of county-level data showing estimated coverage gains between 2013 and 2014. It’s exciting to see that coverage rates increased by over 10% in some parts of the country, including rural areas of Arkansas, Nevada and Oregon. New York’s coverage gains aren’t quite as dramatic, hovering around 5% in most areas, likely because our coverage rates are already relatively high by national standards. (In 2013, New York ranked 12th in the nation for its insured population).

But with a State as large as New York, even a less dramatic percentage change equals a very high number of people.  Remember that over 1.5 million people enrolled in health insurance through the NY State of Health in its first year, and roughly 1.3 million of these people were uninsured when they applied. This new data also helps us understand which parts of New York may have seen the biggest coverage gains. For example, Greene County appears to have had the biggest decrease in its uninsured rate, dropping by 6% from 14% in 2013 to 8% in 2014.

As for the country as a whole, the trends are somewhat surprising and certainly encouraging. According to this data, some traditionally underserved communities may have been helped the most by the Affordable Care Act, including racial and ethnic minorities (Hispanics and black Americans), low-income people, and people living in rural areas.  Hispanic uninsurance rates, for example, dropped nearly 10% from 26.2% in 2013 to 16.5% in 2014.

Keep in mind that the data are from a statistical model based on a large-scale Enroll America survey, so they are estimated rather than actual numbers. Still, these estimates provide ample food for thought as we await Census data for 2014.

Visit the NY Times article here. Can’t get enough of the data? The Upshot is hosting a Facebook Q&A later TODAY, Monday, November 3 at 2pm on its Facebook page.

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The remaining uninsured have lingering concerns about health insurance affordability, and many are  unaware of their state’s Marketplace and upcoming opportunities to enroll. That’s according to a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored study about barriers and motivations of the uninsured to enrolling in health insurance during the ACA’s second enrollment period.  The study, conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication and GMMB, involved a national survey of 1,259 uninsured consumers and 10 focus groups in six cities: Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, and Teaneck, NJ.

Key findings highlight the need for more outreach to the uninsured during the upcoming open enrollment period, which starts on November 15. For example, more than half of the uninsured did not look into enrolling during the last open enrollment period. And, one in four was unaware of the federal or their state’s marketplace. Additionally, 58% of the uninsured have financial debt, and affordability of health insurance continues to be a top concern.

The good news is, nearly three in four want health coverage: 72% agreed with the statement: “Having health insurance would make my life better.” In light of these findings, the researchers recommend the following when it comes to messaging to the uninsured:

Speak to barriers. Emphasize that low-cost plans and financial help are available and people can get in-person help to apply.

Encourage people to check out their options. Many of the uninsured did not look at the Marketplace last year. Those who did could still find different options this year.

Talk about the fine. Give the facts about the fine and how it will increase in 2015 and 2016. This gives an extra “push” to those already thinking about enrolling.

Use peer networks to get out the word. People want to know that it’s possible to get good coverage and financial help to afford it and it helps to hear this from someone they trust.

These messaging strategies can help those doing outreach to the remaining uninsured in New York State. New York enrolled over 1.5 million people in the first year of the NY State of Health Marketplace, but we still have work to do to ensure all New Yorkers are covered. Getting the word out – and using the right messages to do so – will be key to making sure the second open enrollment period is a success.

View the full RWJF report here.

As of September, 1.5 million New Yorkers had enrolled in coverage through the NY State of Health Marketplace. Are you one of them? Or, do you know others who enrolled? The time to renew that NY State of Health coverage is coming right up!

How will renewing coverage work? The NY State of Health just released this new video that breaks down the process. The short (1.5 minute) video includes important details, like:

  • Those who enrolled last year will receive a renewal notice before open enrollment begins on November 15, including key details like what coverage they have currently and how much it will cost to keep the same plan.
  • Those who agree with the notices and do not want to make changes will be automatically enrolled in the same plan for another year.
  • Those who need or want to change their coverage can make a change between November 16 and December 15 for January coverage. Changes can be made online at nystateofhealth.ny.gov, by calling the helpline at 1-855-355-5777, or by visiting an in-person assistor in their community.

We could go on, but why not watch it here for yourself? And better yet, send the link to friends and family who enrolled. It’s all part of making sure those 1.5 million New Yorkers who have already enrolled can keep their coverage in the years ahead.