The Kaiser Family Foundation poll has provided one of the first comprehensive looks at the new enrollees in the individual market.
One of the biggest findings of the poll is that a majority (57 percent) of people getting coverage on the exchanges say they were previously uninsured. As intended, the law resulted in more people buying coverage.
The poll also found that that a narrow plurality of people in the non-group market who were forced to switch from non-compliant plans to new ACA-approved plans actually ended up paying less for premiums, likely because of the new tax credits. Among this group 46 percent said their premiums went down while 39 percent said their premiums went up:
Of course premiums aren’t the only metric by which to judge a plan. For some the new plans meant narrower networks. Among this group 33 percent said they have fewer choices in primary care doctors, only 10 percent say they have more options, and 55 percent claim the networks are about the same.
In general this poll confirms the basic impression derived from other sources. A majority of people in the individual market arguably benefited from the law or were not impacted much — mainly those who received subsidies or had health problems. Yet there is a segment of people who can legitimately feel they were made worse for some reason, like healthy people who had insurance and now are paying higher premiums.
In fact that is roughly what we seen when people in the non-group market were directly asked if the law was a net positive or negative for them, although there is a good chance that this and all of the other answers to the survey are being skewed by partisan allegiances. Among non-group enrollees 29 percent believe the were negatively affected:
Democrats can make the argument that this is an acceptable set of trade offs for a net benefit, but the political problem is that the law wasn’t sold as a set of trade-offs for people in the non-group market. The law was cynically sold as a way to help some people while leaving absolutely everyone with insurance they liked completely unaffected.