Over two-thirds of people living in California who were initially uninsured are now covered by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, according to a new report.
Latest survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a non-profit organization that focuses on health care issues in the United States, researchers found that out of the 2,100 uninsured Californians they observed before the expansion of health care under Obamacare in 2014, there are now only 32 percent of them still uninsured.
This percentage is down from the 42 percent of residents yet to be enrolled in the program in the spring of last year.
Among those who were observed, 34 percent of those newly insured Californians signed up through Medi-Cal, the state's low-income health program. Around 14 percent of locals were provided coverage by their employer, while 12 percent of them became part of Covered California. Only 8 percent of Californians preferred to sign up for other coverage plans.
The full sample featured in the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. There was an error margin of about plus or minus 5 percentage points for those recently insured, while there was a plus or minus 8 percentage points for the remaining uninsured Californians.
"For people that didn't have health insurance, California has been very successful in enrolling two-thirds of that group," senior vice president Mollyann Brodie, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, said. "But the group that is left is a harder-to-reach group."
The study found that one of the most common reasons why Californians chose not to sign up for insurance is because of the program's affordability. Around 44 percent of those observed cited this as the primary reason.
The researchers also discovered that 40 percent who are still uninsured have never been part of an insurance coverage before.
In a large majority of those who remain uninsured, 41 percent of them have been identified as having entered the United States through illegal means. Those immigrants are not eligible for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The researchers also discovered that the health coverage has been beneficial to people who chose to enroll in the program, especially in terms of their finances.
Patients who signed up for insurance were found to be less likely to claim that they experienced difficulty in affording health care. They are also less likely to say that they have issues paying their medical bills, or that such bills prove to be more problematic compared to when they were still uninsured in 2013.
Over 50 percent of those previously uninsured people believe that having health coverage allows them to feel more secured financially.
Around a quarter of Californians recently insured, however, say that they forgo receiving medical care because of the expenses. Sixteen percent of these people claim that they were told by the doctors that they would not be accepted as patients in the past year, while 23 percent said that they were made to wait longer for a medical appointment than what was acceptable.
Photo: Carl Lender | Flickr