Poll: Nearly 4 in 10 say California Obamacare exchange not working well

In a new poll, 39% of Californians said the state insurance exchange isn't working well, or not at all. Above, a Covered California bus came to downtown Los Angeles Nov. 14.
(Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times)

Nearly four in 10 Californians say the state’s health exchange isn’t working well as the second open enrollment gets underway, a new survey shows.

The results from the Public Policy Institute of California survey may reflect persistent service problems experienced by some consumers as well as continued partisan opposition to the federal overhaul.

More than half of people, 52%, said the Covered California exchange is working well. That’s down from 54% who gave high marks in May.


Thirty-nine percent said it’s not working too well or not at all. Nine percent didn’t know.

Californians also remain split over President Obama’s Affordable Care Act overall. Open enrollment in private health insurance began Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15.

Forty-six percent of Californians surveyed had a generally favorable opinion of the health law while 43% were unfavorable.

Nationally, the sentiment has been more negative.

Last month, 46% of people surveyed in the U.S. had an unfavorable view of the health law compared to 37% favorable, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

The latest results on satisfaction with Covered California mirror some earlier consumer feedback.

In a survey published in July, nearly 40% of newly insured people said signing up through Covered California was difficult, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Many consumers and insurance agents have vented about long wait times when trying to reach the state’s call center and frequent glitches with the online enrollment system.

In response to those complaints, the state has revamped its website, nearly doubled the number of call-center workers and promoted more in-person help.

Those improvements “are making it easier for consumers to enroll even though some are still encountering some difficulties in certain situations,” said exchange spokeswoman Amy Palmer.

“Overall, however, the volume of consumers enrolling indicates that we are performing better this year than last,” she said.

During its first open enrollment, Covered California enrolled about 1.2 million people in private health plans. Those policyholders have until Dec. 15 to switch coverage so it’s in effect by Jan. 1.

For most consumers, their existing health plan will be automatically renewed if they do nothing.

Covered California wants to end open enrollment with 1.7 million enrolled by Feb. 15.

In the Public Policy Institute survey, 71% of the uninsured say they intend to get health insurance. The top reason given was because they don’t want to pay the federal fine for being without coverage.

The San Francisco institute is a nonpartisan think tank. Its survey included responses from 1,704 adults from Nov. 10-17 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Twitter: @chadterhune