Arminda Murillo, 54, reads a leaflet at a health insurance enrollment event in Cudahy, California March 27, 2014.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Even GOP consumers are satisfied with ‘Obamacare’

It can’t be easy for the Affordable Care Act’s most aggressive critics to see the fight slipping away so quickly. The right’s predictions have turned out to be wrong, while the system’s successes have turned out to be even better than expected.
 
For those still hoping to see the American health care system crumble, the news this week must be even more discouraging. Margot Sanger-Katz reports, for example, on satisfaction rates among consumers who signed up for coverage through exchange marketplaces.
The survey, from the Commonwealth Fund, a research group, a research group, came to similar conclusions as other surveys about the expansion of health insurance. It found that about 15 percent of adults younger than 65 now lack health insurance, down from 20 percent before the Affordable Care Act rolled out in January.
 
What was more surprising is that people who got the new coverage were generally happy with the product. Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before – including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year – were happy with their new coverage.
If this were a sporting event, it’d be a rout. Far-right groups and congressional Republicans did everything they could to discourage Americans from getting health care coverage, and not only did those efforts fail, Republican consumers are happy they ignored their allies’ advice. (Brookings reported yesterday that the anti-ACA crusade may have even backfired.)
 
Indeed, these latest results are exceeding expectations. Sanger-Katz talked to the Kaiser Family Foundation Larry Levitt, who said he wasn’t sure we’d see such high satisfaction rates so early.
 
Wait, for those hoping to see success, it gets better.
 
Jonathan Cohn noted another key angle from the Commonwealth Fund report.
Back in the spring, some conservatives insisted that Obamacare enrollment statistics were some kind of sham. Sure, people were finally signing for the program. But early reports suggested that most of these people had insurance already. The law’s critics figured that meant the Affordable Care Act wasn’t really helping substantially more Americans to get coverage, as it is supposed to do. 
 
A new report suggests that the critics were wrong about that. 
 
It’s a survey from the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that focuses on health care programs in the U.S. and abroad. The results provide a detailed look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact, including the question of whether more people now have insurance – and, if so, how many. The answer is consistent with previous reports. And it is encouraging.
It sure is. The Congressional Budget Office projected that the ACA would, in its first full year, bring coverage to about 12 million uninsured Americans. Based on the available evidence, that’s pretty much exactly what’s happened.
 
“This is yet another datapoint showing that the Affordable Care Act is basically doing what it’s supposed to do,” Levitt told Cohn. “That doesn’t mean everyone is benefiting from it or is happy about it. But, it’s on track to working as intended.”
 
And in case anyone’s looking for a little more good health care news, Sarah Kliff noted yesterday that there’s been an “amazing” decline in Medicare’s price tag, thanks in part to ACA reforms.
 
This is not to say the job is done or that everything is now perfect. That’s clearly not the case. There are still millions without coverage, and for many struggling families in red states, where Republicans are blocking Medicaid expansion out of partisan spite, conditions haven’t improved much at all.
 
That said, overall, the news about “Obamacare” over the last several months has been pretty astounding, surprising even ACA optimists. That’s not what the rooting-for-failure dead-enders want to hear, but the facts speak for themselves.
 

Affordable Care Act, Health Care and Obamacare

Even GOP consumers are satisfied with 'Obamacare'