Weighing the ACA
Plus Ça Change, ACA Edition

Despite a temporary bump, overall satisfaction with the quality of American health care is virtually the same now as it was in 2005-2007, and attitudes towards health care coverage and cost remain unfavorable, according to a new survey. Gallup breaks down the numbers:

From 2005 to 2007, a slim majority of Americans rated the quality of healthcare in the U.S. as excellent or good. But this percentage increased slightly in 2008 after President Barack Obama was elected, reaching a high of 62% in November 2010 and again in 2012 just after he was elected to his second term. Those higher ratings could reflect optimism about Obama’s promises to reform healthcare and the passage of the Affordable Care Act. However, since November 2013, shortly after the ACA insurance exchanges first opened, no more than 54% of Americans have rated the quality of healthcare in the U.S. as excellent or good.

Americans rate U.S. healthcare coverage far less positively than they do healthcare quality. The percentage of Americans rating U.S. healthcare coverage as excellent or good increased from 26% in 2008 to 38% in 2009. Since then, the percentage who view healthcare coverage in the U.S. positively has varied slightly from year to year, but remains higher than before Obama took office

Americans’ satisfaction with the total cost of healthcare in the U.S. remains low, with 21% saying they are satisfied. Twenty-eight percent were satisfied in 2001, but satisfaction fell after that, rising again only in 2009, to 26%. This increase too may reflect optimism about the possibilities of Obama’s healthcare reform. However, satisfaction has since slipped.

This is yet another piece of evidence that the Affordable Care Act hasn’t really done much to improve many Americans’ experience with the U.S. health care system. Whatever one can say about the ACA, it’s increasingly clear that it left intact many of the root dysfunctions driving our health care problems, and, as a result, Americans are still unhappy with both cost and coverage, and almost evenly split on quality.

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