As part of Con Alma Health Foundation’s project to assess the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New Mexico, the Foundation conducted an informal survey in the fall of 2015 to provide an opportunity for individuals around the state to provide feedback on how the Affordable Care Act has impacted them, their family, and community. Con Alma received a total of 266 responses, which provides a snapshot of respondents’ perceptions about ACA in New Mexico. This survey does not profess to represent the general public opinion about the Affordable Care Act in our state.
The community survey was distributed online, and through Con Alma Health Foundation’s website, social media, newspapers, and other means. It was also posted to several websites such as the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Santa Fe Community Foundation, and Goodnews New Mexico, among others.
Although the number of responses was small, the geographic representation was remarkable. As demonstrated in the Geographic Participation graphic, responses were received from 30 of the 33 counties in New Mexico representing 55 communities/towns/villages around the state. The geographic participation could not have been accomplished without the help of the New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils. The Alliance is comprised of 38 county and tribal health councils throughout New Mexico.
This snapshot revealed concerns regarding affordability and the complexity of obtaining health insurance and demonstrates continued barriers to health care consistent with other surveys of this type. Responses were less clear about the depth of understanding of some of the benefits of health care reform under the Affordable Care Act. For example, under ACA, insurance companies cannot refuse coverage due to pre-existing conditions. ACA covers preventive services, allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan, and includes mental health and substance abuse services as essential health benefits.
As with the implementation of any major new policy, there is often a gap between what was planned and what actually occurred. With ACA, the challenges of implementation revolve around cost, and the complexity of the Affordable Care Act itself. Suggestions from survey respondents on what can be done to improve the implementation of ACA were largely focused on increasing affordability and reducing the complexity of obtaining health insurance. Health literacy and continued outreach and education were specific strategies recommended by respondents to improve the implementation of ACA in New Mexico.