Study: Healthcare law will help close pervasive gaps in insurance coverage

President Obama’s healthcare law will be a big help for the 25 percent of Americans who experience gaps in their insurance coverage, a new study says.

Many people who get healthcare through their employers end up with temporary gaps in their coverage when they lose a job or change jobs. Those gaps don’t get as much attention as the chronically uninsured, but they have a significant impact on the healthcare system.

About 25 percent of U.S. adults experienced a gap in their health coverage last year, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund. And more than half of those people said they’ve experienced a gap of at least two years.

The Affordable Care Act will help close those gaps by making it easier for people to buy insurance on their own when they don’t have access to an employer-based policy, the Commonwealth report says. It cites the law’s Medicaid expansion, the ban on turning away people with pre-existing conditions and the creation of new state-based exchanges to easily find and purchase insurance.

“Together, these reforms mean that people who lose their health benefits will be able to turn to a range of affordable insurance options that will enable them to gain insurance immediately rather than enduring months or years without coverage, losing connections to their doctors, and indefinitely delaying preventive care that would help maintain their health,” the report states.

The Commonwealth Fund’s survey tracks people who tried to buy an individual insurance policy in the past three years. Most of those people — 55 percent — didn’t end up buying a plan, according to the study, usually because the premiums were too high.

Under the healthcare reform law, people who don’t have access to employer-based coverage will be able go into their state’s exchange and buy private coverage on their own, without being charged a higher price because of pre-existing conditions. Low-income customers will get a subsidy from the federal government to help cover the cost of their plan.