Roughly 3.4 million previously uninsured adult Californians say they have obtained health insurance since the beginning of the year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This means that 58 percent of the once uninsured population in the state now have an insurance policies of some type.
The bulk of this increase was thanks to the expansion of the California’s Medicaid program Medi-Cal. It was responsible for almost half of the increase in coverage while people buying plans on the new exchange accounted for only about one sixth. People signing up for employer coverage played also played a significant role.
Not only was Medi-Cal responsible for the biggest reduction in the uninsured but people like it better and find it easier to use than the exchange. The survey found 74 percent of people who signed up for Medi-Cal said the process was at least somewhat easy. By comparison just 60 percent who get coverage on the exchange felt that way. People who got coverage on the exchange also had a tougher time finding out if they qualified for financial assistance and confirming their coverage.
Similarly, while most found using their new plan a positive experience, on average Medi-Cal performed noticeably better than the exchange.
The survey also looked at why many still remain uninsured. An incredible 71 percent of this group said insurance is something they needed. The problem remains cost and access. Half cited not being able to afford coverage or not being able to get enough financial assistance.
Roughly a third of the remaining uninsured actually tried to get coverage but most of this group found the process difficult. They found it difficult to compare plans, compare costs, and find a policy which fit their needs.
Once again the data should put the value of the private insurance exchanges in serious question even in states that do a good job building their systems. They are more difficult to use, they are more expensive, and more people are unhappy with the coverage they provide. Just expanding public insurance is much more effective.