Newly insured struggle with health, treatmentNews added by Benefits Pro on May 28, 2014

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Joined: September 07, 2011

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By Kathryn Mayer

Though the majority of new enrollees in Obamacare plans describe themselves as healthy, a still significant percentage say they’re in fair or poor health and don’t regularly get care.

New data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute finds that of those who gained health insurance in the last 12 months, 81.8 percent report being in good, very good or excellent health.

But 18.2 percent report being in fair or poor health, a percentage that's higher among those newly insured compared to people who were already insured.

Researchers compared the demographic characteristics and health status of the newly insured – defined as those who have gained coverage within the past 12 months and were uninsured just before enrolling in their current coverage – against those who already had coverage for the whole previous 12-month period.

The newly insured also are more likely than adults who had coverage for the full year to report days with poor physical and mental health, what researchers call “a measure of health-related quality of life.”

That’s despite the fact that those new enrollees tend to be younger than those who have had coverage (50.4 percent under age 35 vs. just 33 percent of those who were insured for the previous 12 months).

Furthermore, even with these high levels of health care needs, only about a third of the newly insured have a usual source of care. Only about half had a routine check-up in the last year.

“Helping the newly insured form connections with primary care providers and obtain the care that they need in the appropriate settings is the next step in moving from coverage to care,” researchers wrote in their report. “Making that transition may be difficult as the newly insured, particularly the newly insured who have not had health insurance before, may need help learning how to access care through their coverage.”

The report also found that roughly 90 percent of people who recently gained health insurance have incomes that qualify them for Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid coverage.

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