Many Unaware of New Coverage Options Under Health Care Reform Law
Millions of low-income U.S. residents who might qualify for new insurance coverage options in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act are unaware of the upcoming benefits, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports (Kliff , "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/21).
For example, in a focus group conducted by Enroll America -- a not-for-profit organization that aims to maximize insurance enrollment under the ACA -- none of the 31 participants were aware of subsidies for individuals with incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level or Medicaid for the lowest-income U.S. residents. However, most of the participants were aware of the requirement to purchase coverage under the ACA (Kliff , "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/21).
Meanwhile, a survey by the Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners found that 78% of uninsured U.S. residents that are likely to qualify for insurance subsidies under the law are unfamiliar with the new coverage options. The survey also found that 83% of residents likely to qualify for Medicaid in 2014 were unaware of the option
Â Further, six million individuals who are expected to be eligible for Medicaid after the program expands in 2014 will not enroll, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
Consequences of Low Participation
Experts say that one reason individuals do not realize they might be eligible for insurance subsidies is that the subsidies are not available for another year, according to "Wonkblog." However, residents must start signing up Oct. 1 for state health insurance exchanges, and a lack of awareness about the subsidies could compromise enrollment rates in those exchanges, experts note.
In addition, health policy experts say that low enrollment could lead to higher insurance premiums, while hospitals have voiced concern that low participation rates could force them to continue paying for a large share of patients' unpaid medical costs.
ACA supporters say the law will not prove successful without a massive public relations campaign to boost awareness, "Wonkblog" reports. The Obama administration is preparing a final budget for an outreach program focused on the opening of the health insurance exchanges in October.
Meanwhile, Enroll America -- which includes the American Hospital Association, CVS Caremark, physician groups and insurers -- has raised $6 million for an outreach campaign to make individuals aware of the subsidies available under the ACA.
The campaign likely will launch in summer or fall of 2013 and concentrate on a handful of key states, including Florida and Texas, that have a large number of uninsured residents and have done little outreach about the law (Kliff , "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 11/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.