Polls Find Widespread Confusion About ACA, Insurance Exchanges
Awareness about the health insurance exchanges that are scheduled to open this week for enrollment remains low, particularly among uninsured U.S. residents who stand to benefit from the online marketplaces, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's September health tracking poll released Saturday, the Washington Post's "Wonkblog" reports (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 9/28).
The tracking poll surveyed 1,503 adults between Sept. 12 and Sept. 18 -- less than two weeks before the Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment -- and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points (Rau, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/28).
According to the poll, just 12% of uninsured respondents knew that the exchanges will begin accepting applications on Tuesday, while about 14% guessed that the marketplaces will open sometime this year or in 2014 ("Wonkblog," Washington Post, 9/28). Among all respondents, 64% said they did not know when the exchanges will open, 15% knew the correct date and 20% guessed specific but incorrect dates (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/28).
KFF analysts said many residents still are confused about some of the law's provisions and will need more information. A little more than 50% of respondents said they did not have enough information about the law to understand it ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/28).
Meanwhile, 59% of respondents said they knew about the ACA provision that requires insurers to provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, while 63% said they were aware of the federal subsidies that will be available to eligible low-income residents to purchase coverage, which was a 12-point drop from a poll conducted in 2010, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
Further, about 52% of respondents incorrectly said the ACA creates a government-run insurance plan ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/28). In addition, about 19% of respondents said they wanted to know how the ACA is being funded and how much they will have to pay to get insurance coverage, while 18% said they wanted someone to explain the law to them in a simple, concise way, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/28). Still, the poll found that awareness about the individual mandate was higher among respondents -- at 79% -- than any other provision in the ACA ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/28).
Media Plays Substantial Role in ACA Awareness, Poll Suggests
The poll's results suggest that U.S. residents' general distrust of the national media could be one reason why awareness about the ACA remains low. According to the poll, only 6% of respondents said they believe the media has focused on the law's effects on consumers, while 56% said the media has focused more on the politics and controversies behind the law.
Further, more than 50% of respondents said they could not name a media source they could trust to provide reliable information about the ACA. Among those who could:
- 10% said they trust Fox News;
- 5% trust CNN;
- 3% trust public radio, like NPR;
- 2% trust the New York Times;
- 2% trust MSNBC; and
- 1% trusts the Wall Street Journal ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/28).
Overall, public opinion about the law remained consistent with previous tracking polls -- 39% expressed support for the ACA and 43% expressed opposition to the law ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/28).
Separate Poll Finds Similar Confusion
Meanwhile, another poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS News also found that many U.S. residents are confused about the ACA. Sixty percent of the 1,014 adults who responded to the phone survey -- conducted between Sept. 19 and Sept. 23 -- said they find the law confusing, the Times' "In Practice" reports.
The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
In addition, the poll found that:
- 30% of respondents said they believe the law will have a positive effect on consumers and their families;
- 30% said they believe the law will have a negative effect; and
- 40% said they the law will have no effect.
Among respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, about 66% said they approve of the law, while about 80% of Republicans and more than 50% of independents said they disapprove of the law and see it as harmful to the economy.
Further, about 60% of uninsured respondents said they trust President Obama more than the congressional Republicans on dealing with issues on health care, and more than 66% of uninsured respondents do not want the ACA to be defunded (Kopicki, "In Practice," New York Times, 9/26).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.