Despite the recent passage of health care reform, discontent with the American health care system remains widespread, a new study finds.

Since health reform was enacted in March, and implementing regulations have yet to be fully issued, the impact of the law–the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA)–has yet to be felt, notes the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), Washington, which commissioned the study by Mathew Greenwald & Associates.

Confidence in today’s health care system is not high but has neither fallen nor increased as a result of the passage of health reform, EBRI found in its 2010 Health Confidence Survey.

The survey found fewer individuals confident that employment-based health coverage will be available to them in the future, a sign that availability may be affected by passage of health reform. The survey also found most Americans do not know when the legislation takes full effect.

Most Americans give the health care system low grades, with 27% describing it as poor and 31% as fair, the study found.

The percentage who said they were extremely confident that they could afford health care without financial hardship increased from 11% to 16% between 2009 and 2010.

Of those with health insurance coverage, 58% were extremely or very satisfied with their current plan, and 30% were somewhat satisfied. And 59% said they were extremely or very satisfied with the quality of the medical care they have received in the past two years, the highest satisfaction level since EBRI started the survey in 1998.

But just 22% are extremely or very satisfied with the cost of their health insurance, and only 19% are satisfied with the cost of health care services not covered by insurance.

In the latest survey, 52% of individuals with employment-based coverage said they were extremely or very confident that their (or their spouse’s) employer or union would continue to offer health insurance, down from 59% in 2009. The decline may be due to passage of health reform, the continuing weak economy, or both, EBRI says.

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