Poll: Mass. Residents Unwavering in Support for State Health Law

Medway, MA - 01/04/14 - Cherif Kamel still has no information about his insurance coverage despite doing all he could to make sure that he and his wife Carol McCorkindale were signed up for insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector, but Tufts Health Plan has received no notice that he is a member. Meanwhile several doctor visits have left the couple with $1,000 in out of pocket costs. - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), Section: Health Science, Reporter: Chelsea Conaboy, Topic, 09insurance, LOID: 7.2.3887393122.
Medway, MA - 01/04/14 - Cherif Kamel had no information about his insurance coverage despite doing all he could to make sure that he and his wife Carol McCorkindale were signed up for insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector
Barry Chin / The Boston Globe

A recent poll conducted by the Boston Globe and the Harvard School of Public Health has found that despite the state health insurance website’s troubles this year, the majority of the Massachusetts residents surveyed (63 percent) still support the state’s 2006 universal health care law.

A glitchy 2013/2014 Massachusetts open enrollment season mirrored Healthcare.gov’s shaky start, but 50 percent of state residents surveyed did not realize people were having problems signing up for health insurance on the Health Connector website

. This is a striking comparison to the highly public and politically charged commentary surrounding the federal health insurance marketplace.

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For those of you who also missed the drama, here’s a recap:

In March 2014, after the state had to ask for multiple enrollment deadline extensions from the federal government for its residents due to the website’s problems, the state fired CGI, the contractor who built the glitchy online insurance marketplace. CGI also bears primary responsibility for building the federal HealthCare.gov insurance website.

Mass. residents had a variety of issues on the Health Connector, from not being able to log on at all to not being able to shop for health insurance, which was supposed to be the website’s primary functionality.

The Boston Globe/HSPH poll was conducted over the telephone from May 27 to June 2, 2014. According to the interviews, the same percentage (63 percent) support the state health insurance law in 2014 that supported it in 2011, one year after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and five years after the state law passed.

In terms of opposition, 18 percent oppose the law in 2014, versus 21 percent in 2011. (Both in 2011 and 2014, 7 percent don’t have an opinion or refused to answer.) Meanwhile, 12 percent of Mass. residents in 2014 hadn’t heard of the law, versus 9 percent in 2011.

Out of the 46 percent of respondents who were aware of the Health Connector’s glitchy failure, responses were similar between the two groups who felt it was likely (24 percent) or unlikely (20 percent) that the website will work by the fall, but there seems to be a hint of optimism. (Two percent didn’t know.)

State residents’ sentiments around health reform continue to be more positive than in the rest of the country. Fity-seven percent approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 34 percent disapprove and 9 percent don’t know. The ACA has largely been tied to the drop in President Barack Obama’s approval rating, since this law was one of his administration’s major policy initiatives.

According to a Pew Research/USA Today poll conducted at the end of April and cited by the Globe in the report of their survey results, 41 percent nationally approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 55 percent disapprove and 4 percent don’t know.

The HealthConnector’s failure resulted in many who tried, and failed, to sign up for health insurance on the state website. Those residents who were unable to enroll were placed defacto on on Mass Health, the state health insurance program, until the site can be up and running again and allow residents to shop for options (it’s original intent).

State officials are hoping to have a functioning website by fall 2015, when the next open enrollment period begins for residents.

Read the full report.

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