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What We Still Need to Know About Obamacare

What We Still Need to Know About Obamacare
Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, some 10 million adults under age 65 now have health insurance. Even so, only 36 percent of Americans view Obamacare favorably. My colleague John Tozzi suggests this was a foregone conclusion: Many people never trusted health-care reform, or didn’t need it, so they were inclined to dislike it from the beginning. It also might be that the number of people who gained coverage is only part of the story. We still know almost nothing about the millions of people who actually use Obamacare.

According to a McKinsey survey (pdf), three-quarters of the people who bought insurance on the Obamacare exchanges were previously covered. Whether these folks benefited from the ACA—and perhaps whether they think favorably of it—depends on what their previous insurance covered, what it cost, and why it was discontinued. There are few data on these questions, but we do know ACA insurance is quite limited. According to a survey by the Physicians Foundation (pdf), only one-third of doctors accept insurance bought on health-care exchanges. That leaves people with narrow networks and treatment options.