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New Poll: People Are Happy With Their Marketplace Insurance

Nearly three-quarters of Americans who purchased health insurance via federal or state marketplaces in 2013 are satisfied with their coverage according to a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 22 through Nov. 12. The survey asked 9,623 adults with health insurance whether they had bought health insurance through the exchange or elsewhere. Of those asked, 407 reported that they had bought a plan from the marketplace, and 74 percent of those respondents reported “good” or “excellent” ratings for the quality of their coverage.

In a separate poll conducted from Nov. 6 through Nov. 9 regarding health insurance in general, 81 percent of respondents rated the quality of their insurance as “good” or “excellent.” This second poll surveyed individuals with health insurance regardless of when or from what source they bought it. Newly insured individuals reported only slightly less satisfaction with their marketplace coverage than did all individuals with insurance.

Marketplace Satisfaction

Numbers are positive across the board for health insurance for 2014. When asked about coverage in general, 46 percent of respondents to the earlier survey rated overall coverage as “good” while 43 percent of respondents to the later survey reported the same rating. It would seem that plans purchased via the federal and state health insurance exchanges are comparable in quality and overall satisfaction among newly insured individuals.

These numbers should prove encouraging for proponents of Obamacare. Despite the uncertainty of the new law in light of several court challenges, including a U.S. Supreme Court case later this year, the marketplace appears to be operating successfully and offering previously uninsured Americans access to better healthcare than they had before.

In fact, only 5 percent of newly insured respondents reported a quality rating of “poor.” In terms of overall coverage, the dissatisfaction rate almost doubles. Nine percent of respondents indicated a “poor” rating when asked about their overall coverage. There are bound to be drawbacks to a new healthcare system, but early results as reported by these Gallup surveys indicate general appreciation of marketplace offerings.

Controversy over Quality of Care

When the marketplaces were established in October 2013, opponents of the new healthcare law predicted that technical difficulties, confusion about the law’s requirements and exorbitant prices would lead to widespread dissatisfaction. In fact, opponents of Obamacare have long held that the ACA would negatively impact the American healthcare system and lead to long lines, high costs and poorer medical care for people with government-sponsored insurance. The recent Gallup survey suggests otherwise.

Americans who previously had no form of insurance and who purchased plans via federal or state health exchange sites reported overall satisfaction with their plans. This result indicates that the Affordable Care Act may be accomplishing at least one of its goals: to provide easier access to better health insurance. It appears that those with health insurance from the marketplace experience a similar level of care to those who purchase plans via different means.

The numbers speak positively about the success of Obamacare, but these results represent a relatively small percentage of the insured population. While sampling is reported at 95 percent accuracy, consumers should keep in mind that final numbers for satisfaction may vary. Approximately 41 million Americans still lack any form of health insurance, and time will tell whether these uninsured Americans will participate in the system in some way, thus altering these figures.

Cost an Important Factor

Cost plays an important role in the satisfaction of health insurance beneficiaries, and the recent Gallup poll indicates that people who bought insurance through the health exchange were more satisfied with the cost of their coverage than were others with insurance. Approximately 75 percent of newly insured respondents claimed overall satisfaction with the cost of their coverage. Just 61 percent of all insured respondents reported satisfaction with the cost of their insurance in the later poll.

Of those with health insurance in the poll conducted Nov. 6 – 9, 37 percent reported dissatisfaction with the cost of their coverage. These results suggest that health insurance costs nationwide aren’t quite as satisfactory as the cost of insurance plans available on the marketplace. However, it’s important to note that the health exchange site offers subsidies that are unavailable to people who purchase plans outside of the marketplace.

Subsidies allow consumers to purchase health insurance for reduced rates, which may then allow them to buy higher plans at a lower cost than they may have otherwise been able to afford. For instance, a woman who might only be able to afford a bronze plan on the exchange may get a subsidy that enables her to purchase a silver or gold plan for the same price. She would then receive a better value for her health insurance budget.

The Supreme Court will decide later this year whether federal subsidies can be allotted to people who purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace versus an individual state exchange. Until then, people who take advantage of subsidies may continue to report satisfaction with the cost of their coverage. People who purchase health insurance outside of the marketplace or those who aren’t eligible for subsidies may likewise continue to hold reservations about the cost of their insurance.

Renewed Policies for 2015

Not only are newly insured Americans generally pleased with their quality of care and overall coverage, but most respondents in the Gallup poll plan to renew their policies for the 2015 season. In the survey, 68 percent of newly insured individuals plan to renew their existing coverage, and 7 percent plan to use the health insurance exchange to purchase a different policy. In essence, about 75 percent of enrollees are satisfied enough with the marketplace to use it again this year.

According to the survey, 23 percent of respondents will choose a different plan entirely either off-marketplace or from a different source. Only 2 percent of respondents indicated that they would drop coverage entirely for 2015, which suggests that previously uninsured Americans have enjoyed increased access to healthcare.

The open enrollment period for 2015 is in full swing as of Nov. 15. For people without insurance or those unfamiliar with the marketplace options, respondents of the recent Gallup poll affirm that the system appears to be working as expected. With the technical issues from last year resolved and general satisfaction in the exchange sites among enrollees, this year’s open enrollment may prove rewarding for participants.