How did consumers fare when signing up for ACA coverage in California? Early research shows a mixed bag.
More than 2 million Californians have signed up for health insurance or applied for Medi-Cal through Covered California, the state insurance marketplace established to expand coverage opportunities under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This report provides the first in-depth analysis of early consumer enrollment experiences.
The researchers, PerryUndem Research/Communication, conducted interviews and focus groups with a diverse group of users. Participants applied online, by telephone, or in person. The study captures consumers' motivations for applying for insurance, their experience of the enrollment process, and whether they have begun to use their coverage. The goal of the research is to identify areas for improvement in the application process.
Among the key findings:
- Most consumers wanted health coverage, felt it was important, and were anxious about being uninsured.
- Financial security was a top motivation to enroll.
- Large numbers of consumers did not know how Obamacare, Covered California, and Medi-Cal were related to each other or how insurance worked.
- Many consumers were unaware that in-person enrollment assistance was available.
- Some enrollees were surprised by how much documentation was needed and found it to be difficult. The burden delayed successful completion of the process for many people, especially Medi-Cal applicants.
- Covered California's online chat feature did not work for anyone surveyed.
The complete report is available under Document Downloads.
Update: CHCF's Marian Mulkey, director of Health Reform and Public Programs, presented these findings about early enrollment experiences to the California Assembly Health Committee on May 6, 2014. A video of her testimony is available below.