Survey: Customers More Satisfied With So-Called Junk Plans Than Obamacare Health Coverage

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Americans who were allowed to keep their non-Obamacare compliant insurance are happier with their coverage than those with Obama administration-approved health plans, according to a Thursday survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kaiser’s latest survey of individuals who signed up for coverage in the individual insurance market found that among those who still carry extended insurance plans that aren’t compliant with the health-care law’s regulations, 85 percent would rate their coverage as either good or excellent. The same proportion of those with employer coverage were satisfied as well.

In contrast, 71 percent of those with Obamacare-compliant plans both on and off the government-run exchanges believe their offerings are good or excellent — a large majority, but significantly lower approval than health plans not affected by the health-care law.

Greater approval for non-Obamacare plans cuts sharply against the Obama administration’s cries that coverage before the health care law was simply “junk” insurance.

Obamacare-compliant customers are also less satisfied with how much they’re paying for that coverage. Fifty-five percent of customers with Obamacare-approved plans said their coverage was a good or excellent value, while 58 percent with grandfathered, noncompliant plans approved of their coverage’s value. Employer plans, however, won again, with 70 percent of customers rating the value as good or excellent.

Four in 10 said that it was difficult to pay monthly premiums, while a majority said they were doing just fine — after subsidies, that is.

But when it comes to the value of Obamacare regulations, customers who switched over from non-compliant plans provided a particularly striking view of Obamacare’s effect on the health coverage.

Among the “plan switchers,” around 55 percent found a plan with comparable choice in primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals, according to KFF. But for the others, significantly more moved to plans with more limited options than saw their choices increase.

Close to one-third said their new Obamacare-compliant plan had fewer primary care physicians available, while 10 percent said they had more. Around 23-24 percent said they had fewer options for specialists and hospitals in their new Obamacare health plan, while just 11-13 percent said they had more choice.

The survey also concluded that on Obamacare exchanges, 57 percent were previously uninsured — a drastically higher number than previous surveys by McKinsey and RAND Corporation. KFF senior vice president Larry Levitt said the disparity was due to the surveys’ different questions: McKinsey, which found in April that 26 percent of exchange customers were previously uninsured, asked customers whether they had been uninsured in the past year, while Kaiser questioned customers on whether they were uninsured immediately before signing up for coverage on the exchanges.

McKinsey’s methodology appears more likely to catch the perennially uninsured, while KFF’s survey is more likely to include others as well — those who recently left their job and chose the Obamacare exchange as it was newly available.

According to KFF president Drew Altman, it’s the long-term uninsured that advocates should be focused on, a group more likely to be pinpointed by the McKinsey survey’s format. The group is made up of minorities, those with less education and people without access to the internet, Altman said, emphasizing the need for personal enrollment efforts in upcoming years.

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