People Who Are Still Uninsured Aren’t Very Happy With Obamacare


Patrick Brennan notes an interesting finding from last month’s Kaiser tracking poll on health care reform. Over the last few months, unfavorable views of Obamacare have risen thanks to the rocky rollout, but they’ve risen only slightly. This is true for all races, ages, genders, income levels, and party IDs.

But there’s one specific demographic where unfavorable views have gone up dramatically: the uninsured. Roughly speaking, unfavorable views among the uninsured have increased by about 20 percentage points. Here’s the chart:

Brennan takes a crack at understanding what’s going on:

For one, they’re more likely to be interacting with the law: Navigators are trying to reach them; some of them have probably been on the individual market at times, which only a limited percentage of Americans are, and are now seeing themselves priced out of coverage; others are perhaps just disappointed with what the law has to offer, or that its plans aren’t free, period. Some of them could be people who would have been eligible for Medicaid if their state had expanded it, and now see people making a little more money getting heavily subsidized insurance while they’re left out in the cold. As Jason Sorens points out on Twitter, it’s possible that we’re seeing a selection effect — people who like the ACA and for whom it works well are now leaving the ranks of the uninsured. We’ll have to see if this trend holds up.

My guess is that this is mostly a combination of a selection effect and an interaction effect. Right now, lots of people have signed up for coverage and are satisfied with it. These folks are no longer uninsured, so they fall out of the survey. The only people left are ones who, after five months, still don’t have coverage. And there’s obviously a reason for that: maybe the website didn’t work and they gave up. Or even with subsidies the price was too high. Or they thought they’d qualify, but for some reason they didn’t.

In any case,

[Whoops. Had to take a short break for a visit to the ER. Turns out I have pleurisy, which somehow sounds rather Dickensian to me. Hurts like a sonofabitch. Plus the ER nurse gave me a shot, and now my left arm hurts too. Recommended treatment: lots of Advil for the next few days.]

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes: In any case, once lots of satisfied folks become insured, then by definition the pool of uninsured becomes less satisfied. The ones who thought Obamacare would help them and are now disappointed are a bigger fraction of the total. Most likely, that’s all that’s going on here. But it’s probably worth keeping an eye on anyway.

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