(LOUISVILLE, Ky – January 18, 2017) Less than a fifth of Kentucky adults with health insurance were concerned about losing their coverage in the weeks immediately prior to the November elections, according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Kentuckians also remained split on their opinion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and a slight majority believe it has not affected them, according to the poll.
KHIP is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Health Kentucky and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health.
“The vast majority of Kentuckians just weren’t worried about having their health insurance coverage taken away, despite the debate about the potential for repealing the ACA in the months preceding the election,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Kentucky, like the nation, remains deeply divided on the health care law,” he added.
The poll did find that Kentuckians’ concern varied depending on their self-reported health status: while just 11 percent of those who said their health was excellent or very good registered concern, nearly a third of those in poor or fair health indicated they were worried about losing coverage. KHIP has been asking Kentuckians about their opinions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since the law passed in 2010, but this is the first time the poll has included a question about concern over losing health insurance.
The report released today also showed that 40 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the ACA, while 46 percent had an unfavorable opinion. These opinions have remained relatively consistent since the law went into effect in 2014. Between passage in 2010 and implementation, favorable opinions grew steadily from 26 percent to 39 percent, and “don’t know” opinions have dropped from 26 percent to 14 percent.
“More than 600,000 Kentuckians have gained health coverage under the ACA, and our own research shows that it has greatly increased the use of important health measures such as cancer and dental screenings, preventive care services and substance use treatment. Yet nearly half of Kentuckians continue to oppose it,” Chandler said. “And a majority, although slim at 51 percent, also said that the ACA really hasn’t affected them or their families at all.”
The KHIP survey calls for this latest poll were made from Sept. 11 through Oct. 19, 2016, shortly before the Nov. 8 national and local elections, but after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program. As permitted under the ACA, former Gov. Steve Beshear expanded Medicaid eligibility to Kentuckians earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Gov. Bevin’s proposal, which is expected to gain federal approval, would make changes for expansion-eligible Medicaid enrollees.
KHIP found that 51 percent of Kentuckians polled said the ACA hadn’t impacted them or their families. Another 46 percent of respondents were split: 23 percent said the Act had a positive impact and 23 percent said it had a negative impact on them and their families. The other 3 percent either didn’t know or said the impact was both positive and negative. These results also were unchanged since 2015.
KHIP is an annual telephone poll of Kentucky adults about a variety of topical health matters conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,580 adults from throughout Kentucky were interviewed for the current poll. A copy of the report is available here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $26 million in health policy research and advocacy, as well as demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation is to address the unmet health care needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing health policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.
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Bonnie J. Hackbarth