Friday, September 29, 2017

Ezra Klein's "Why Obamacare Survived" Cites Public-Opinion Surveys

With Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act stymied once again (for the short term, at least), Ezra Klein analyzes "Why Obamacare Survived" at Vox. The article cites and links to public-opinion surveys on consumers' satisfaction with the different types of health-care coverage they receive, and also provides several statistics on the costs of the ACA. All in all, Klein's article is a handy one to have, for analyzing health-insurance policy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Robert Blendon and John Benson have a new piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled "Public Opinion About the Future of the Affordable Care Act." Focusing on the aftermath of late July's failure of the U.S. Senate to pass an ACA "repeal and replace" bill, Blendon and Benson set out the following agenda in their article:

Our analysis of 27 national opinion polls by 12 survey organizations provides background on four critical issues relevant to the previous House and recent Senate health care decisions: the public favorability of the current law, the public values underlying the debate about the future, support for various health policy changes in the proposed Republican legislation, and support for the overall Republican proposals debated in the House and Senate.

Vox's Sarah Kliff writes about the Harvard study, focusing on the substantial rise in the percentage of Americans who believe the federal government has a duty to ensure that everyone has basic health insurance.

Another noteworthy finding I noticed is that the individual mandate, long the most unpopular feature of Obamacare, no longer appears to be so toxic. B&B note that: "...48% favored removing this requirement, whereas 50% were opposed" (from a March 2017 CNN/ORC poll).

A large amount of attention during this year's House and Senate debates focused on how the various Republican bills would treat people with pre-existing conditions. The House-passed bill featured the McArthur-Meadows amendment, which would allow states to opt out of some of the Obamacare coverage standards (including those protecting people with pre-existing conditions), as long as those states operated high-risk pools for this purpose. The Senate process included a proposed amendment by Ted Cruz, which would have allowed insurance companies to offer relatively cheap plans that did not comply with Obamacare standards, as long as they also offered plans that did.

Many have contended that high-risk pools typically are not funded well enough to help everyone with expensive illnesses and chronic conditions to treat, and that the Cruz plan would likely make things difficult for those with pre-existing conditions  because the ACA-compliant plans would become very expensive. Two pertinent findings from the Harvard authors were that:
  • "Approximately one third of the public (35%) believed that insurers should be allowed to offer health plans that cover fewer benefits than currently required"
  • " less than one fourth of the public believed that insurers should be allowed to charge more for people with preexisting conditions (24%)."
Kliff writes that "Blendon attributes the change in attitudes to Americans thinking through the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act, resulting in millions losing coverage." That seems as good as explanation as any.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

"The Most Unpopular Bill in Three Decades"

This is from about two weeks ago. Axios reported an analysis showing how public support for the Republicans' health care legislation compared to support for other controversial bills (including, but not limited, to health care) over the past 30 years (via Vox).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Medicaid Patients' Quality Ratings of Their Care

Medicaid patients appear to rate the health care they receive very favorably, according to this Huffington Post report. The article also contains statistics on doctors' willingness to take Medicaid patients.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Looking at Americans' Pro/Con Views of ACA to Anticipate How People Will Feel About Republicans' (Potential) Replacement

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Dan Hopkins attempts to connect reasons cited by respondents in the past for supporting or opposing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) to Americans' future attitudes toward a Republican replacement bill (should one pass). For example, the most commonly cited reason for supporting the ACA, endorsed by roughly 17% of respondents, was "increased access." Hopkins then invokes "initial analyses suggest[ing] that the proposed changes probably won’t cut out-of-pocket spending" and concludes, "if the reform reduces access to health insurance, it’s hard to envision the bill becoming more popular than the law it seeks to replace."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Single-Payer Proposal in California

The Los Angeles Times reports polling results from the Public Policy Institute of California, under the headline "Single-payer healthcare is popular with Californians — unless it raises their taxes."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Polls on American Health Care Act (AHCA) After House Passage

HuffPollster reports on four polls that have gauged public opinion toward the American Health Care Act (ACHA), Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) repeal-and-replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA; also known as Obamacare), since the bill passed the U.S. House on May 4. Note that some of the survey questions generating the following results alluded to the ACHA having passed, whereas others described the legislation as a proposal. Support for the AHCA comes in at:
  • 31% in a May 6 HuffPost/YouGov poll; this poll also found that, "Americans are more likely to be intensely opposed than even modestly supportive. Just 8 percent say they favor the bill strongly, with 34 percent strongly opposed."
  • 31% in a May 6-9 Economist/YouGov poll (strongly 11%, somewhat 20%). 
  • 38% in a May 4-6 Morning Consult/Politico poll (strongly 13%, somewhat 25%). This poll also found that, "...55 percent of voters said they support bas[ing tax] credits on people’s income and location — which is how Obamacare’s subsidies are calculated. In contrast, 18 percent of voters supported basing credits on age, as proposed in the GOP alternative." (The apparent rationale for age-based credits is that tax-based subsidies can be used to attract younger people to purchase health insurance.)
  • 21% in a May 4-9 Quinnipiac poll (strongly 9%, somewhat 12%). The Q-Poll also found that, "Voters say 75-21 percent, including 59-34 percent among Republicans, that it's a 'bad idea' to give states the ability to allow health insurance companies to raise rates on people with pre-existing conditions."
Overall, then, neither the AHCA as a whole, nor some of its specific policy changes to Obamacare, seem particularly popular at this time. The bill is now in the Senate's hands and, while most observers expect the Senate to make modifications, the extent of these is anybody's guess.

UPDATE (5/14/17): Via Political Wire, there's a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in which "just 23% call the legislation a good idea, including 18% who 'strongly' say that."