Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation Survey Shows Dramatic Improvement in Health Insurance Coverage and Access since 2012

March 23, 2015 | Press Releases, Publication

A survey brief released today by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT) shows that in 2014, fewer Michiganders reported being uninsured and struggling to pay medical costs or delaying needed medical care, and more residents had access to primary care than in 2012, before the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansions went into effect.

The survey, conducted in late 2014, asked 1,000 Michigan adults—including the uninsured and those with all types of insurance—about their experiences accessing primary and specialty care. The insured answered additional questions about their experience and satisfaction with their health insurance.

“The 2014 Cover Michigan Survey is the first detailed look at changes that have occurred in Michigan since the implementation of the major coverage provisions under the Affordable Care Act went into effect,” says Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of CHRT. “The fact that we saw a 50 percent decrease in those reporting that they were uninsured compared to our survey in 2012 is very significant and likely reflects both Michigan’s improved economy and the Affordable Care Act’s insurance expansion provisions.”

In 2014, 21 percent of respondents said that cost was a major reason for not seeking needed medical care, half as many as in 2012. In addition, there was a 26 percent decrease in respondents who reported that they struggled to pay their medical bills.

“Overall, the state of health care coverage and access to care in Michigan is much improved,” says Udow-Phillips. “It appears from this survey that our predictions that the ACA would lead to better coverage and access to care have been affirmed.”

Access to primary care remains easy, although the survey did reveal a challenge among all insurance types in obtaining appointments with specialists. Overall, there was an 8 percent increase in respondents seeking specialty care compared to 2012. This increase in demand might be a factor in the increased difficulty in getting an appointment with a specialist. Those with Medicaid or individually purchased plans reported the most difficulty in obtaining a specialist appointment.

Before the coverage expansions occurred, there was concern that people would not be able to find care and turn to the emergency room for services.

“The fact that respondents reported easy access to primary while at the same time more of them reported being insured is an important finding that indicates that there should be the opportunity for people to get care earlier, preventing ER visits and hospital stays,” says Udow-Phillips.

This 2014 Cover Michigan Survey is the first in-depth consumer survey of its kind examining coverage trends in Michigan. The survey provides a picture of insurance coverage starting from five months after the first Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period under the ACA ended and enrollment in the Healthy Michigan Plan, Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program, had begun.

This survey brief is the first in the Cover Michigan Survey 2014 series. Future briefs will cover other aspects of health care in Michigan using the 2014 survey data.

Details of this survey and the results will be discussed at CHRT’s March 26 symposium, “Alpena to Zilwaukee: A Symposium on the Affordable Care Act’s Coverage Expansions in Michigan.” The free event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the University of Michigan, Michigan League Ballroom. For more information or to register, visit: chrt.test/events/aca-coverage-expansions-mi/.