Affordable Care Act Education Efforts Have A Long Way to Go

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With only five months left until a major element of the Affordable Care Act opens for business, four in ten Americans are unaware that healthcare reform is still law, according to a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Kaiser Family Foundation also reports that nearly 50 percent of Americans don’t understand how implementation of the Affordable Care Act will impact themselves and their family. This number jumps to 56 percent in low-income households, and to 65 percent for Hispanic households. Meanwhile, younger Americans also demonstrate of lack of awareness, with nearly 5 in 10 unable to say whether or not the Affordable Care Act is in place.

Health insurance marketplaces — the state and/or federally-run marketplaces from which individuals and families will be able to compare and choose insurance plans — are set to open for enrollment in October and be fully operational by January 1, 2014.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have opted to establish state-specific marketplaces, while seven others will operate their marketplaces via a state-federal partnership; the federal government will facilitate marketplaces in the remaining 26 states.

It is still unclear how many individuals will choose insurance plans through the marketplaces next year; however, plans offered by the marketplaces are expected to cover about 27 million people by 2016.

The survey results suggest that state and federal governments face an uphill battle to educate the public about the features of the Affordable Care Act before October’s enrollment period begins. The Department of Health and Human Services plans to begin a nationwide public awareness campaign about the Affordable Care Act this summer; meanwhile, advocacy groups around the country are ramping up their own efforts to ensure their communities understand the rules and regulations of health care reform.