By Julie Appleby, KHN Staff Writer, Kaiser Health News
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans who bought insurance for this year through the health law's online marketplaces were previously uninsured - most for at least two years, according to a new survey that looks at the experiences of those most affected by the law.
That finding is higher than some earlier estimates and counters arguments made by critics of the law that most of those who purchased the new policies were previously insured.
The survey also found that consumers who purchase their own coverage because they can't get it at work are more likely to have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act than the general public. Still, they are nearly evenly divided, with 47 percent holding a favorable view of the law and 43 percent an unfavorable one, according to the survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
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That compares with 46 percent of adults nationally who are sour on the law and 38 percent who hold favorable views.
Consumers who received a government subsidy to help them purchase a plan were most likely to say they benefited from the law, according to the Kaiser survey. Those most likely to say they were negatively affected were those who had prior coverage but had to switch because their plans were discontinued for not meeting the law's standards or for other reasons.
The report is likely to provide fodder for all sides in the debate about the law's effect on health care costs and reducing the number of uninsured, which remains sharply partisan.
The findings suggest the new market for those who buy their own insurance "is working far better than critics say it is, but probably not as well as advocates hoped it would be," said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the nonpartisan foundation.
Aside from data about premium costs, there has been little information so far about the experiences and perceptions of those who buy their own coverage. Are they healthier or sicker than those who get coverage through their jobs? Did people who lose their former coverage end up paying more or less for new plans? Do they like their coverage?
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The Kaiser survey provides additional details based on a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 742 adults who purchased their own coverage. Many of the health law's provisions were aimed at them, from the subsidies to help low- and middle-income residents buy coverage, to rules barring insurers from rejecting people with medical conditions, or charging women more than men.
Read the full story here at Kaiser Health News.
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