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47% Don't Know Where To Get Health Care Info

9:14 AM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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By Fola Akinnibi, USA TODAY

About one in 10 Americans -- 9% -- say The Affordable Care Act has improved their health insurance situation in the past year, according to a new survey by Bankrate.com.

The telephone survey asked a representative sample of 1,001 Americans about their knowledge of and feelings about the law that mandates health care insurances for all Americans in coming years.

The survey was conducted from Oct. 17 to 20 after a 16-day federal government shutdown over raising the debt limit ended and the bungled launching of health exchange websites nationwide.

In fact, 38% of uninsured Americans said they feel more negative about the three-year-old law than they did the past year. And 47% of the uninsured say they don't even know where to turn for information on the act. Uninsured Americans make up about 15% of the population.

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Doug Whiteman, a Bankrate.com insurance analyst, says the numbers show the government outreach efforts haven't gone far enough.

"It is discouraging that there is so much pessimism (around Obamacare)," he said. "The law is over three years old and so many people aren't getting the information."

Health exchange navigators in some states can make the process easier for consumers, says Eric Johnson, the Norman Eig Chair of Business at Columbia University. But not every state has embraced the law; in fact 26 don't have state marketplaces. In states like Florida, uninsured citizens don't have health exchange navigators to guide them through the nuances of the law, he said.

Johnson compared the act to a new product release, adding it is rare for a product to roll out with the amount of buzz, albeit negative, that the ACA has. The buzz health care exchanges have generated in such a short time rival that of the iPhone and its latest product offerings, he says.

Health exchanges should prioritize user friendliness, in order to better help consumers navigate the websites, Johnson said. Some states have calculators that tell how much a particular plan will cost over time and filters to help consumers find which plan is best for them.

"The federal exchange has had its problems," Johnson said. "A thing that is lost is the state exchanges have been doing quite well."

On the bright side: 51% of Americans and 64% of uninsured Americans are more curious about the law, which Whiteman says is a positive sign.

"There are reasons for people to be pessimistic," Whiteman said. "There has been a lot of confusion and there has been a lot of misinformation. People have been more curious, they just don't know where to turn for information."


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