The San Joaquin Valley has insured more than 75 percent of its previously uninsured residents since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a new survey.
The Valley has insured 78 percent of the previously uninsured population, which is higher than the 72 percent insured statewide.
The survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation also showed only 13 percent of people in the Valley who are eligible for coverage remain uninsured.
Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, said in a written statement Friday that the statewide results from the survey show that “California has made great strides over the past three years, with consumers getting coverage under the Affordable Care Act, getting better employer-based coverage and benefiting from a competitive market that has cut California’s uninsured rate to 8.1 percent.
Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, covers about 11 percent of those insured, Kaiser Family Foundation said. About 33 percent have coverage through Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for low-income residents. Another 21 percent have coverage through their employers, and the remainder have other sources of coverage.
The perception is they can’t afford it or that they did in fact shop and got a premium that just didn’t fit in their budget.
Bianca DiJulio, Kaiser Family Foundation
Cost continues to be the primary reason people cited for not having insurance, said Bianca DiJulio, the foundation’s associate director for public opinion and survey research. Of the remaining uninsured, 47 percent said cost was the reason they did not have health insurance, and 49 percent said they were unaware of financial help that is available.
“The perception is they can’t afford it or that they did in fact shop and got a premium that just didn’t fit in their budget,” DiJulio said.
DiJulio noted an interesting result from the survey: People have retained coverage since the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, went into effect. Sixty-three percent of those who participated in the survey said that they had had coverage at least a year and 48 percent reported coverage for two or three years. Only 14 percent reported gaining coverage at some point and losing it.
The survey found that the recently insured reported fewer worries about paying medical bills and that they were more likely to report their health needs being met than before they had coverage (77 percent now versus 49 percent in 2013).
A majority of those surveyed appeared to be happy with their health insurance plans. Seventy-nine percent said they had positive experiences with their current health insurance plan, including 31 percent who said their experiences had been very positive. And 81 percent said they were satisfied with their plan’s choice of hospitals, 76 percent were happy with the plan’s primary care doctors and 68 percent with the specialists.
Hispanics are 67 percent of the remaining uninsured statewide.
However, the survey found that 25 percent of the recently insured said they had to wait longer than a reasonable time to get a medical appointment and 12 percent said they had been told by a doctor’s office or clinic in the past 12 months that they would not be accepted as a new patient.
The survey found Hispanics make up 67 percent of the remaining uninsured, but that half of them are likely undocumented immigrants who are not eligible for Medi-Cal or to enroll in Covered California.
Lee said the survey shows the need for more outreach.
“We want everyone to know that when you apply for health insurance through a health insurance marketplace like Covered California, all of your information is kept private and secure,” Lee said.
Open enrollment for Covered California health plans for 2017 begins Nov. 1. However, special enrollment is available year-round for people who have moved, married, had a baby or had other life-changing circumstances.