Obamacare insurance holders rate themselves sicker: survey

Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:55am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while delivering remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while delivering remarks on the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, at an Organizing for Action grassroots supporter event in Washington, November 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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(Reuters) - Individuals who purchased health insurance set up under U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law rate their personal health as worse than people who bought individual plans elsewhere, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found.

The survey, conducted after enrollment in Obamacare plans closed in April and released on Thursday, is the first comprehensive study addressing the health of those who have purchased this new insurance, created by the Affordable Care Act.

About 8 million people purchased Obamacare plans, more than half of them qualifying for government subsidies toward their monthly premiums based on household income.

The relative health of policyholders is a key factor for insurers when they set premium rates, which are designed to cover the costs of medical services among participants. Kaiser said it was unclear how this finding might influence rates because insurers had been anticipating a sicker-than-average customer base.

The telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 742 people also found that 57 percent of the new Obamacare plan members had been uninsured just before they obtained coverage. Most of them said they had not had coverage for at least two years.

Insurers including WellPoint Inc and Aetna Inc have said they are still gathering data about their new customers, many of whose coverage did not start until May 1. Insurers have already submitted many of their 2015 rates to regulators.

The survey found that 16 percent of respondents with Obamacare plans purchased on state exchanges rated their health as "fair," the fourth-worst of five levels offered. That compared with an average of 11 percent for all people who bought individual insurance.

About 4 percent of people buying from the Obamacare exchanges rated their health as "poor," compared with 2 percent in individual plans sold outside of those exchange and less than 0.5 percent of people who still hold plans that do not comply with the law. These plans are expected to phase out of the market in the next three years.

At the opposite end, 21 percent of people in Obamacare exchange plans said they had "excellent" health, compared with 24 percent of all individual plan holders.

Twenty-seven percent of Obamacare plan members said they had "very good" health, compared with 31 percent overall, and 31 percent said they had "good" health, compared with 30 percent overall.

Kaiser found the 55-to-64 age group was the largest among members of ACA-compliant plans sold both on and off the exchanges. People older than 65 are eligible for the government's Medicare program.

Of the other holders of ACA-compliant plans, 17 percent were aged 18 to 25, and another 17 percent were 26 to 34. About 19 percent were 35 to 44, and 21 percent were in the 45-to-54 age bracket.

The survey was conducted April 3 to May 11.

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Comments (12)
the basic concept of insurance is lost on people. everybody pays into a pool that is used to cover costs when needed. then everybody tries to not need it. those who don’t need it,now,whine about it until they need it. then they demand it. the other side is the insurers try their best to not pay. and, the third part is the providers look at insurance as free money. the whole thing can be handled by cutting the cost of service. that includes the providers of health service and the providers of insurance. both are clearly out of control. health should never be a commodity. the sole purpose of government is to safeguard the health of citizens. the health industry is actually a threat to the health of citizens. insurance companies are actually parasites on the back of health providers. the cost of health care is mostly for people who provide no health care. they stand in line to take a share as the money is processed. administrators aren’t doctors. they take no oath to do no harm. many people who are made healthy still can’t go home because it’s been taken to pay the people standing in line with their hand out. administrators and insurers are a cancer that needs to be cut out.

Jun 19, 2014 12:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Abenaki wrote:
Yes I have to agree, but I have not used the health side yet. I have used the dental side “Dominion Dental”. You pay $42 a month and get one cleaning every 6 months. It cost more to have the dental then to not. You think maybe it would be good for emergency dental care, but then you find out it does not cover anything above a teeth cleaning. I had developed an “abscessed tooth” and you have only two options either pull the tooth and put a implant in or root canal and crown. So you end up having to pay for anything like: root canals or crowns. Plus you also find out that any dentist that takes the plan would charge more. The dentist that took the plan wants to charge around $1,800. The dentist that does not take the plan wants to charge around $1,300.

Jun 19, 2014 12:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Timistheword wrote:
It’s not as if more people are sick, it’s just that people didn’t feel like they could say they were sick before, given fears that they’d be uninsurable. The headline should read “Americans now less fearful of being honest about their health.”

Jun 19, 2014 12:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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