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Patients Report Improved Care Access, Better Health With ACA

Gains seen in how many adults have insurance and a doctor, and say they are in better health

TUESDAY, July 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Millions more Americans have affordable health insurance, access to a personal doctor, and feel they are in better health following the first two open-enrollment periods of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new analysis shows. The results are published in the July 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The survey, which involved more than half a million U.S. adults, found that the ACA has reversed what had been a downward spiral in which health care was becoming more costly and less available to many Americans, lead researcher Benjamin Sommers, M.D., Ph.D., told HealthDay. Sommers is a health economist with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

In particular, minority groups and the chronically ill have made huge strides in gaining health coverage and getting the care they need, the researchers reported. Close to 16 million more adults have gained health coverage, a reduction of almost 8 percent in those who were previously uninsured. “Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act five years ago, we’ve seen the largest reduction in the uninsured rate in four decades,” Sommers said.

According to Sommers, other findings include: seven million more adults have access to a personal physician, a 3.5 percent improvement; almost five million more adults have easy access to medicines, an improvement of more than 2 percent; and 11 million more adults say they can afford the health care their family needs, a 5.5 percent improvement. In addition, almost seven million more adults described themselves as being in excellent, very good, or good health, rather than fair or poor health, Sommers said. Previous research has shown that people who say they are in fair or poor health have markedly higher death rates, he explained.

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