Senior Policy Analyst
Fewer people skipped needed health care due to its cost or reported trouble paying medical bills in 2014, a new survey finds. These improvements, the first since the Commonwealth Fund began asking these questions roughly a decade ago, came as health reform’s major coverage expansions took effect in 2014. Among the survey’s findings:
As the survey report notes, the gains in health coverage—and the related reductions in people’s financial problems — may partly reflect an improving economy. However, the coverage gains were far greater in the recovery from the 2007-09 recession, just as health reform took effect, than in the recovery from the previous (2001) recession, our analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows — a sign that health reform’s coverage expansions also played an important role. Health reform enabled millions of people to obtain more affordable coverage in 2014, through both the Medicaid expansion in many states and the creation of insurance marketplaces that provide federal subsidies to reduce people’s premiums and cost-sharing charges. Health reform also improved access to coverage by barring health insurers in the individual market from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to people with health problems, and it limited how much insurers could charge older people compared to younger people. Even before 2014, the law began improving access to coverage, including by requiring most insurance plans to cover adult dependents up to age 26 beginning in 2010. Millions of Americans still have trouble affording health care, and we need to do more to address that problem. But, in part due to health reform, the situation is looking up.