Survey: Most Americans support the right to affordable care, but remain pessimistic about ACA's future

Affordable Care Act highlighted
Despite strong enrollment numbers for the ACA marketplaces last year, roughly a third of participants worry about losing their coverage, according to a survey from the Commonwealth Fund. (Image: Getty/Ellenmck)

Americans broadly support the right to affordable healthcare, according to the Commonwealth Fund. At the same time, a substantial number of individuals with health plans through the ACA and Medicaid are pessimistic that their current coverage will continue.

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Findings from a new survey conducted in the last two months of 2017 mark the Commonwealth Fund’s sixth snapshot of public opinion regarding the healthcare landscape. Federal efforts to dismantle the ACA over the past year have stoked uncertainty among those who receive their coverage through the exchanges or under the Medicaid program.

Roughly 1 in 3 reported pessimism about keeping their current coverage, and half of those voiced concern that either Congress or the Trump administration would undercut the ACA through a full repeal or discontinued implementation of the law.

Among the key findings:

  • Strong bipartisan majorities support the right to affordable healthcare, including 82% of Republicans, 99% of Democrats, and 92% of Independents.
  • Nationally, nearly 9 in 10 working-age adults support paying into Medicare as an equitable means of ensuring access to care for those aged 65 and over.
  • Affordability remains a major concern for uninsured adults. More than 70% of uninsured adults told researchers they did not intend to shop for coverage in marketplaces this year because they could not afford the coverage. Nearly a quarter of uninsured adults said they did not plan to visit the exchanges because they expected the ACA to be repealed.

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Broadly, the survey suggests rates of uninsured patients have leveled out since the initial implementation of the ACA. With a little over a third of uninsured adults still unaware of the marketplaces, however, researchers still see potential for coverage gains with appropriate outreach.

“There are a number of clear policy levers that federal and state policymakers could use to improve the ability of Americans to get affordable and comprehensive insurance,” says Sara Collins, the Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for health care coverage and access, and the study’s lead author, adding, “Key among them is Medicaid expansion by the 19 states that as of yet haven’t moved forward.”