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21-03-2013 | Article

Majority of Americans unaware about what ACA means to them


Kaiser Family Foundation poll

medwireNews: As this week marks the 3-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Obama's healthcare law is still largely unclear to a majority of Americans, according to the results of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

"While state and federal policymakers are busy making decisions about the Medicaid expansion and working out the logistics of their health insurance exchanges before 2014, the public at large hasn't been paying much attention to either of these topics," the survey authors conclude.

The recent poll was conducted on 1204 adults who were nationally representative. It found that two thirds of the uninsured and those with incomes below $40,000 - who stand to gain the most from the law - as well as a majority of Americans in general claimed they do not know enough to see how the ACA will affect them. Overall, awareness of key provisions of the law has been on the decline in the USA ever since its passage.

Approximately half of the respondents reported hearing "nothing at all" with regard to whether their state will create and run their own exchanges, while around a fifth have heard "a lot" or "some."

With regard to knowing whether their governor has decided to expand Medicaid or not, 78% claimed to not have heard enough to be able to say for certain.

Opinions about the ACA remains evenly divided with 37% having a favorable view and 40% unfavorable. Republicans still outweigh Democrats in the strength of their view with 53% finding the ACA "very unfavorable" compared to 30% who find it "very favorable," respectively.

"Views by party continue to be as divided as ever," observes the poll. "Yet, some of the law's most fervent opponents like many of the things the ACA has done or will do."

According to the survey, a majority of Republicans are in favor of seven of the 11 provisions with over 70% in support of tax credits to small businesses to buy insurance, closing the Medicare "doughnut hole," and the creation of health insurance exchanges. Republicans found the individual mandate to be the least favorable.

While a majority of polled Americans were correct in thinking that some provisions have already been put in place, many still misunderstand the law's contents; almost 60% think the ACA creates a government-run health plan ("public option").

Overall, the poll detected a negative outlook on ACA's impact with a majority foreseeing worsening healthcare costs, quality of care and consumer protections.

By Peter Sergo, medwireNews Reporter