Towards the end of December 2016, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study, involving six focus groups with about eight to ten men and women, from Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. All participants voted for President-elect Trump. Of the six focus groups, three had a qualified, Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan while the other half were on Medicaid. After the survey, Kaiser drew three conclusion shared among all the participants:
1. Healthcare Is Expensive
When asked healthcare related questions, most expressed similar opinions about the US healthcare system. Their concerns primarily focused on the rising premiums, high deductibles, expensive copays, and drug costs. Most fear they won’t be able to afford the coverage they need for themselves or their family.
Moreover, the participants explained the inconvenience of changing plans every year to keep costs down, which oftentimes affects their coverage and their networks. Understandably, having to find a new doctor every year would be maddening. As for the participants with expensive drug needs, one shared the extreme lengths he has to go to in order to keep the costs of his Type 1 diabetes medication down; he flies to Eastern Europe to purchase insulin at one-tenth of the costs he’d have to pay in the US. Lastly, Drew Altman, the chief executive of the Kaiser Foundation, said that the participants were angry with “the surprise bills for services” that they believed their insurance covered.
2. Healthcare Is Confusing
Interestingly, the Trump voters, enrolled in ACA plan, voiced resentment towards those on Medicaid. They viewed Medicaid as a “better deal” and were frustrated that those with a lower income could get it and they couldn’t. Though Medicaid may have problems of its own, government-run programs seem simpler. So while the high costs are of great concern, the confusing nature of Obamacare irritates them the most. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that they prefer the simplicity of Medicaid. Obamacare’s complexity may actually be the primary motivator behind the push to repeal it. Therefore if confusion has crippled Obamacare, future health reform should pursue policies less complicated.
3. The Future is Uncertain
Though most participants said they trust soon-to-be President Trump, they admitted they’re worried the future. Will Trump’s administration simply reform Obamacare? Or will they repeal and replace it? If so, with what? “Trumpcare” remains unknown. During the survey, Kaiser relayed some reform suggestions, including a health savings account (HSA), made by Representative Tom Price, who’s Trump’s nominee for the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The voters said they didn’t understand HSAs and were therefore skeptical. They were also shocked when Kaiser explained that deductibles may actually go up under Trump’s administration. Additionally, the participants worry about the transition to “Trumpcare” – and whatever that entails – from Obamacare. Having been uninsured before Obamacare, they don’t want to be uninsured again if it’s repealed. For the most part, the participants enrolled in ACA shared these sentiments whereas the ones on Medicaid were content with their coverage.
Ultimately, if given the chance to build their own health plan, many would prioritize lowering out-of-pocket costs. Furthermore, they want regulated drug costs, as well as cheaper drugs. Then, as Altman shared with regards to surprise medical bills, consumers don’t want insurance companies to penalize them for receiving out-of-network care. Above all, they want insurance simplified and easy to understand. However, their ideal health plan may be too idealistic, according to Kaiser.