Millions of Americans face the penalty of the individual mandate in less than a month, when open enrollment ends for the federal and state-run health insurance marketplaces. NY1’s health reporter Erin Billups talks to some experts to gauge how Obamacare is faring so far.
The question many are asking right now is are the uninsured actually signing up for health coverage through the federal and state insurance marketplaces?
"At best, the jury's out right now,” said Paul Howard, Manhattan Institute Center for Medical Progress Director.
Howard says it's still too early to tell how many of the four million Americans now insured through the exchanges, are getting coverage after having none.
"We don’t know how many of those people are truly new coverage, we also don’t know how many people have actually paid their premiums at this point,” said Howard.
A spokesman with New York's exchange says 70 percent of the nearly 558,000 who have enrolled since the exchanges opened in October were uninsured when they applied for coverage.
A recent Gallup poll finds that more than half of uninsured Americans, 55 percent, say they do plan to buy insurance rather than pay the $95 penalty.
Urban Institute Health Policy Fellow, Judith Feder says Obamacare is advancing its goal of getting everyone covered, but it’s still very much an uphill battle in states opposed to the law.
"Where it is the federal government running the exchange, it was not what they wanted, the law aimed to have states do it, they are often doing it in an under-resourced fashion and facing opposition on the ground,” said Urban Institute Health Policy Fellow Judith Feder.
Feder says any major reforms to the health care system would have caused disruptions, like policy cancellations, and argues the ACA has left Americans with modest inconveniences.
"What we've come to call glitches, and we’ve got a way to go before that is smooth, and people understand the choices they’re making,” said Feder.
Howard, on the other hand, says there's still a lot of work to be done, tackling the cost of health care first. He says the country needs to embrace the healthcare industry becoming more customer driven.
"We need to cut down on the amount of money we're spending through employers and help individuals become more aware of what their heath care costs, what providers are charging,” he said.