Survey: Obamacare enrollment getting healthier

Momentum for the Affordable Care Act seems to be building as more young people kick the law's tires.

By Money Staff Jan 9, 2014 2:01PM

This post comes from Dan Mangan at partner site CNBC.


CNBC on MSN MoneyChances for keeping insurance premiums down and getting many more people enrolled under new Affordable Care Act policies this year are looking good, according to a new survey.


Medical doctor © CorbisThe survey found that about one in four adults visited an Obamacare exchange by the end of December. And more significantly, the vast majority of those who visited and are potentially eligible for coverage there -- a total of 77 percent of those surveyed -- reported being in either excellent, very good or good health, according to a statistical snapshot taken by the Commonwealth Fund.


And they were not disproportionately old as has been the case in the limited demographic data released by the Obamacare health exchanges to date.


In fact, 41 percent of the exchange visitors were 19- to 34-years-old, tracking their share of the general population of people eligible for coverage via the exchanges in either private plans or Medicaid, according to the Commonwealth Fund.


If those trends in health status and age hold up among the people who actually enrolled -- and who will ultimately enroll -- it increases the likelihood that insurers will not have to raise premium prices excessively next year to compensate for a bad risk pool that comes from having too many sick and old people signed up.


Courtesy CNBCAs the survey noted, "Young adults are disproportionately likely to be uninsured, and their participation is critical for balancing risk and helping stabilize growth in health plan premiums over time."


"I think the distribution of both age and health is very encouraging in terms of having a well-balanced risk pool," said Sara Collins, lead researcher for the survey and vice president of health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund.


The survey also found that a solid majority, 59 percent, of people intend to enroll in Obamacare exchange policies or check their eligibility for government subsidies to help them pay for those plans by the open enrollment deadline on March 31, if they haven't already done so by now.


Encouraging signs

"Overall, these are very positive findings," Collins said of the survey, which questioned 662 people ages 19 to 64 who are either uninsured or had individual private insurance.


But there was a potentially big caveat in the survey: Just 36 percent of respondents reported that it was very or somewhat easy to find a plan with the coverage they needed. And only 37 percent said it was very or somewhat easy to find a plan they could afford.


The survey did not ask them whether they had successfully enrolled for Obamacare coverage after visiting the exchanges.


"Adults who are potentially eligible to buy health insurance through the marketplaces are demonstrating their determination to gain health insurance this year," said Collins.


"It is encouraging to see a greater share of those who could get coverage visiting the marketplaces, particularly the large share of visits by young adults and people in good health, since their participation will be critical to the marketplaces' success over time," she said. "I think this will alleviate some of the concerns that young adults are not going to participate in the marketplaces."


And, noting the large percentage of people who say they intend to enroll in coverage in coming months, Collins said, "They bode very well for the numbers of people who may enroll in the next three months."


As of Jan. 1, about 2.1 million people had selected a private insurance plan sold on either the federally run marketplace, HealthCare.gov, or on of the 15 such exchanges operated by individual states, according to federal officials. Almost 4 million people by Jan. 1 had been determined eligible for Medicaid via those exchanges.


Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Joanne Peters said the administration is "thrilled" 2.1 million Americans signed up for marketplace coverage in the first three months of open enrollment. "We know that there is strong interest in the product and we expect that enrollment will continue to grow," she said.


Data on how many of those people who selected private Obamacare plans had actually paid their first month of premiums, which is required to formally enroll, is not available. Also not released yet is a breakdown of national enrollment by demographic categories including age, which would shed light on the potential quality of the risk pools.


The national signup total so far in private, exchange-sold insurance is far short of the 3.3 million federal officials had originally predicted would be enrolled by that point. But the actual results were widely viewed as fairly healthy, taking into account the disastrous first month of operation due to website flaws and ongoing problems in several state-run exchanges.


An earlier Commonwealth Fund survey found that 17 percent of adults potentially eligible for Obamacare coverage had visited the federal or state exchanges in October, that first month of operation. By the end of December, that number had grown, with 24 percent of adults eligible for coverage having visited an exchange.


Courtesy CNBC

Collins said the growth in visits was encouraging, because it suggested that many of the visitors who had been stymied by HealthCare.gov's tech troubles in October made efforts to revisit that and other sites once those troubles were sorted out.


However, 69 percent of the visitors to the Obamacare exchanges by December rated their experience either just fair or poor—a result that essentially mirrored October's.


But the survey also found that by December, 51 percent of visitors to the Obamacare exchanges said it was at least somewhat easy or very easy to compare the costs of premiums for plans being sold, while just 37 percent gave such answers in October.


Room for improvement

Forty-three percent of the visitors said it was either somewhat or very easy to compare the benefits that various plans offered, also an improvement from the 30 percent who gave those answers in October.


However, there was no improvement between October and December in people's ability to compare their potential out-of-pocket costs from Obamacare plans, including deductibles and co-pays. In both months, only 38 percent said it was either very or somewhat easy to do so.


The survey, in its conclusion, said, "The findings point to both the public's patience with the repair efforts [on HealthCare.gov] and to determination on the part of many people—including young adults—to obtain health insurance."


"At the same time, it is clear there are ongoing challenges in ensuring that the people most in need are able to purchase coverage they can afford," the survey said. "The data also reveal that the federal and state marketplaces will need to continue to enhance consumer usability."


More from CNBC:





VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

66Comments
Jan 9, 2014 2:16PM
avatar
I call MAJOR BULL$HIT on this DNC propaganda.
Jan 9, 2014 2:58PM
avatar
There is so much spin on this thing I just fell out of my chair and threw up in my trashcan.
Jan 9, 2014 3:19PM
avatar

The whole premise for this article is bogus. INQUIRY is not the same as signing up and the refusal of the admin to release the ratio of payers vs takers, Medicaid vs purchasers and the demographics of the actual signees is a confirmation Obamacare is a disaster. A low grade moron knows that the hits on BMW or Rolls Royce website is NO reflection of qualified and interested buyers.

this is simply MSNBC propaganda attempts to hide and distort truth which is their norm, and hoping opponents will ease up on their criticism.

Any policy or program with lies as its foundation will  eventually fail.The sooner the better.

Jan 9, 2014 2:35PM
avatar
Signing up is one thing, getting a free subsidized plan is another, being a useless POS that qualifies for this and coming up with money for a deductible is an impossibility. It will take them a while to sell their foodstamps for 50 cents on the dollar to pay a deductible. Total train wreck.
Jan 9, 2014 2:56PM
avatar

Two years ago, the young would have gotten twice as good insurance for half the price of what they are looking at today.   ACA raised the price of insurance for all folks.  

 

We will learn soon that if the young don't buy into the ACA insurance scam, the American Tax Payer will be bailing out the insurance companies.  We need to pass a law against bailing out anyone.   Those company's should fail if they don't know how to manage their money.  This way, the Federal and State Gov'ts will stay out of the business community's business. 

Jan 9, 2014 3:26PM
avatar
Two things stood out to me.  First the line, "Obamacare strenghtens as more young people inquire". How does an inquiry strengthen anything?  Second the statement:

"Overall, these are very positive findings," Collins said of the survey, which questioned 662 people ages 19 to 64 who are either uninsured or had individual private insurance.  We have been reading articles stating appx 7 million people are uninsured and appx 10 million have private insurance. So we are to believe that 662 people out of appx 17 million is a large enough number to get an accurate estimate? How many of you would base your entire future on 662 out of 17 million?

Jan 9, 2014 4:24PM
avatar
If the enrollment numbers were improving, the White House would have released the stats immediately rather than refusing to release data on who has actually purchased insurance on the exchanges.  They can run but they can't hide from November and Jay Carney thinks growing a beard will help.
Jan 9, 2014 4:46PM
avatar

I've seen the herds of 400-pounders on the first of the month coming into grocery stores, and, baby, GTF out of their way!  I'm POSITIVE, of course, that they all reported themselves to be "...in good to excellent health..." as their Blood Pressure hits 210/120, are all obese beyond belief, and are either already Diabetic or Pre-Diabetic.

 

Two 'Meds Makers' yesterday announced that by combining their treatments for the Diabetics, Sugar can be eliminated through your Urine.  No kidding-I think this is FANTASTIC and sounds like the closest thing for a cure that I've ever heard of. 

 

Unfortunately, since Obama gutted Medicaid and Medicare Part B to pay for his phony Obamacare Program, the uninformed voter will remain INELIGIBLE for these and other future promising treatments.  Go call your Death Doctors to complain...

Jan 9, 2014 4:32PM
avatar
Yes, Virginia-there IS a Santa Claus-THIS Santa Claus manipulates the Media, assigns his very own think-speak at each press meeting to each member of the press, is called the greatest liar of any sitting U.S. President EVER, and can MIRACULOUSLY have a Web Site that wasn't even WORKING 45 days ago spit out statistics that have done a modern-day 180 degree turn.  REALLY?  Then, if it's so miraculous, how come 50% of my premium goes towards D.C. kickbacks to run this piece of junk legislation, and meanwhile absorb about 79 other tax increases on products we all use daily to pay for this Terrorist's ego-driven madness?
Jan 9, 2014 3:07PM
avatar
Hey you young people better get signed up. This country cannot afford socialized medical care unless you young people sign up and pay the inflated rates for health insurance.  Hurry up....me and my old lady need to go to our doctors and get our medicine. I have appointments with my cardioligist and proctologist and my wife has to go to her OB/GYN doc and her internal medicine doc. And, we are getting low on our prozac, synthroid, blood pressure meds, and my wife's harmone medicine. She can be a real bitch if she doesn't get that harmone medicine.
Jan 9, 2014 4:59PM
avatar
I still can't log in to the website. I have tried everyday at least once since Oct 1. I beleieve its a bunch of hookie.
Jan 9, 2014 2:47PM
avatar
Yes --- please young people -- come to Obamacare.   The earnings that you are entitled to from all that hard work in getting marginal educations at corrupt public universities is needed.  The baby-boomers must be kept alive at ALL COSTS.  After all, they are the great parents who gave you your values.
Jan 10, 2014 12:45AM
avatar
All that's missing is the pom-poms...
Jan 11, 2014 10:41AM
avatar
Liberals destroying the country.....Tax and spend. Come to cook county and see the crazy pensions teachers get.......work 170 days a year retire at 55 and hit the lottery with your retirement even though Illinois is broke.....What other profession out there  pays like cps of cook county? see for yourself. openthebooks.com
Jan 11, 2014 10:50AM
avatar
the liberals say they want to take care of the poor and that they are so compassionate......who pays for all the programs...........Da the middle class taxpayer......raise my taxes so I cant go back into the economy and buy goods and services...that's great for a robust economy. But we're better off today then any other generation right?
Jan 12, 2014 3:19PM
avatar

ONCE AGAIN THE COMMUNIST PMSNBC PROPAGANDA OBAMA NUT 'LOST ON EARTH' IS

SPOUTING THE SAME LIES FROM THE TALKING POINTS OF DEMONCRAPS AND PMSNBC!

IT'S A FACT DECADES OF DEMONCRAPS AGENDA IS A FAILURE! NOBODY GETS OUT OF

POVERTY NO CITY IMPROVES NO JOBS NO GROWTH! EVERY DEMONCRAP STATE IS BROKE

IN DEBT AND OVER TAXED WITH HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT AND CRIME! FUNNY HOW HE

CAN'T BACKUP ANY OF HIS FACTS BUT ALL THE FACTS I'VE NOTED ARE FACTS NOT LIES!

FACTS! OBAMACARE WAS A LIE! UNEMPLOYMENT WELFARE FOODSTAMPS HIGHER! ALL

FOOD ENERGY GAS HEALTHCARE HIGHER! TAXES FEES HIGHER! DEMONCRAPS WEALTH

HIGHER! MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR LOWER! CHECK YOUR FACTS LOST ON SOCIALISM!

9 COMMENTS BY THIS NUTBAG! I THINK THE LEFT PROPAGANDA IS FAILING!

Jan 16, 2014 6:37PM
avatar
A future Republican in the making.

http://www.youtube.c​​om/watch?v=AukE25is​p​VY

They are simply adorable and loving little things aren't they?
Jan 14, 2014 5:20AM
avatar
All Republicans not living in Texas, by all means move there ASAP!

Having every last one of you living there would be the best thing for America.

Please do it now!
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.