The Affordable Care Act: Mostly Working But Questions Remain

May 5, 2015 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – aka Obamacare – is gathering momentum. According to the website,, 11.7 million Americans are estimated to have enrolled in the Marketplaces during the 2015 open enrollment period (Nov. 2014 to Feb. 2015), including 4.5 million who re-enrolled from 2014.

For nearly two years now, ThinkNow Research has been tracking Hispanic consumers’ opinion & acceptance related to health insurance, not only trending it over that time, but more recently, measuring it against other ethnicities (White, African-American and Asian), as well.

And the data show some very interesting trends, as well as some big differences across ethnicities.

For example, when Hispanics were asked if they currently had health insurance,77% said ‘yes’ in November 2013… now up to 83% last month.At the same time, the source of that insurance has changed considerably:

  • 42% got their insurance from their employer in Nov. 2013, declining to 36% last month.
  • 11% of Hispanics state they get their insurance through either the Federal or a State ACA Exchange this year (more than any other ethnic group)

Some more good news… over this same time period, the number of uninsured Hispanics dropped from 20% to 16%.

Interestingly, while the trend has been away from their employer as a source of insurance and toward the ACA, Hispanics’ overall satisfaction with their health insurance has also shifted. When asked, “How satisfied are you with the health insurance you currently have?”

  • In Nov. 2013, 89% said ‘very satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied.’
  • In May 2014, that dropped to 84%
  • And last month, it fell even further to 81%

Bottom line: more Hispanics now have health insurance… but less are happy with it. Good trade-off?

On a related topic, when asked how pleased they were with Obamacare, across ethnicities, results varied greatly:


A difference of 25% from top to bottom? We’re not quite sure ‘why’ either.

Lastly, while acceptance and enrollment in ACA continues to grow, there are still a lot of questions surrounding it. For example:

  • 33% of Hispanics don’t know if they would sign up for Obamacare through the federal website or through a state-sponsored site.
    • Compared to 45% for Whites, 40% for African-Americans and 30% for Asians)
  • 40% of Hispanics don’t understand the fines associated with not being insured
    • Compared to 47% for Whites, 50% for African-Americans and 43% for Asians)

So, where does that leave us? With nearly 12 million subscribers on the books, it certainly looks as though the Affordable Care Act is working… but there are a couple of issues that Washington needs to address:

  • Whether it’s due to the website, the pricing or the product itself, there needs to be an increased focus on the “customer experience.” Having millions of “unhappy customers” is never a good thing.
  • If Washington is going to mandate that everyone have health insurance, then they have to make sure that American consumers and employers thoroughly understand what they’re asking us to do… and keep us updated as the program changes over time.

Making sure everyone has some level of health insurance is generally considered to be a good strategy. How that strategy is executed is the challenge.

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