IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Most still confused about health care, poll says

Most U.S. adults are still not sure when they will see certain changes from major healthcare reforms passed earlier this year, according to a new survey
/ Source: Reuters

Most U.S. adults are still not sure when they will see certain changes from major healthcare reforms passed earlier this year, according to a new survey.

Researchers for the nation's insurance commissioners found that most people know the changes require coverage of young adults up to age 26 and bar health insurers from refusing to cover sick children. But they found just 14 percent of those polled knew those early provisions, among others, take effect Sept. 23.

"People are woefully underinformed ... in spite of the fact that we've had all this national discussion around health reform," said Sandy Praeger, the insurance commissioner for Kansas and head of the health insurance committee for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which conducted the poll. The survey is to be released on Monday.

The findings come amid renewed debate about the healthcare law ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November. While President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats cite the expansion of health insurance access as a top achievement, Republicans are campaigning against it and vowing to repeal the law.

In another study published on Thursday, government researchers found dramatic shifts for payers under the health care law even as the nation's overall health care costs remain unchanged.

More than half of the adults surveyed believed that all employers must now offer health insurance for their workers, although the law — passed in March — exempts certain small businesses.

Nearly half also mistakenly thought that starting this month, health insurers had to cover preventive health services without requiring a co-payment, according to the survey. The bill does call for certain minimum coverage for some preventive care.

NAIC, which has risen in prominence amid the healthcare debate and is helping to shape various provisions affecting insurers' bottom lines, polled 1,000 adults by phone from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15.

Praeger said that most people probably don't know about expected coverage changes because they are not directly affected yet. That will change as open enrollment season starts and people have to pick their coverage options for next year, she told Reuters.

"They'll know about it soon because there will be more information going out," she said.