Low-income California adults who gained insurance coverage in 2014 had an easier time accessing health care than those who were uninsured and increased financial protection from medical bills, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report.
The report, funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation and based on findings from the California sample of the 2014 Kaiser Survey of Low-Income Americans and the ACA, finds that newly-insured Californians were more likely to have a usual source of health care (61%) than the uninsured (43%), and that the newly-insured also were more likely to have used any medical services (58% vs. 45%). In addition, newly-insured adults reported lower rates of difficulty paying medical bills, and were less likely to say they worry about their ability to afford medical care in the future.
Clinics and health centers continue to be core providers for both populations: 47 percent of the newly-insured and 60 percent of the uninsured with a usual source of care say they use them rather than a doctor’s office or HMO.
While the majority of newly-insured adults give their health plan “excellent” or “good” ratings, some newly-insured adults do report ongoing challenges. More than a third of newly-insured adults (35%) say they postponed or went without needed health care (versus 29% of those who were continuously insured), and nearly half (47%) said it was somewhat or very difficult to afford their monthly premium.
Between October 2013 and 2014, about 2.8 million people were determined eligible for Medi-Cal, which was expanded under the Affordable Care Act. During that period, roughly 1.7 million people applied and were determined eligible for enrollment in a private plan through Covered California, the state-run insurance marketplace created under the health law.
The new report examines who in the state gained coverage in 2014; who remained uninsured and why; how people view their coverage; and how coverage affects financial security and access to care. KFF and the Blue Shield of California Foundation co-sponsored a briefing and panel discussion about the findings, and how the California experience with the ACA has been going. You will be able to view an archived version of the webcast within the next week.
The survey, which included a state-representative sample of 4,555 California adults age 19-64, was conducted between Sept. 2 and Dec.15, 2014.