Fewer Americans Uninsured, But Still Find Health Reform Law Confusing

health reform law

Health insurance exchanges will officially open for business in less than two weeks, as a part of the ongoing effort to implement portions of the health reform law. The exchanges represent one of the biggest portions of the law since it offers the very coverage uninsured Americans will be required to purchase.

But on the brink of this public health plan open enrollment period, polls show Americans are still confused about the law responsible for providing them with health insurance coverage. The unclear law has brought the Obama administration a lot of criticism, but separate reports praise the law for its success in already meeting the intended goal of reducing the percentage of Americans without insurance.

Health Reform Law Still Confuses Americans

One of the biggest criticisms President Barack Obama has faced since taking office is his Affordable Care Act. While many believe the law has the potential to help individuals acquire much-needed health insurance, some criticize the lack of effort that has been put forth in explaining how the law works.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reflects this criticism. Despite state-based health exchanges opening on October 1, an astounding six in 10 Americans are likely not prepared to make informed decisions when purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act because they say they do not have the information necessary to understand the changes the law will bring.

Interestingly, the confusion is not linked to a particular group. Confusion was equal among age groups, races, genders, party affiliations and income groups. Further, it cut across geography, which is significant since some states are promoting the law more actively than others.

The Obama administration says it has plans to provide even more information in the weeks to come.

Chris Jennings, White House coordinator for health care reform, explained in a statement that the administration will begin its big public information push after October 1 so people will be able to learn more online about how the law will affect them.

Percentage of Americans Lacking Health Insurance Drops

While most Americans say they are confused about the health reform law, some who aren’t confused appear to have already taken advantage of its early benefits.

The Census Bureau issued a report on Tuesday revealing that, for the second year in a row, the proportion of Americans without health insurance declined in 2012. The decline occurred despite no significant changes in real household income or the poverty rate from the year prior.

The Bureau said 15.4 percent of people were uninsured in 2012, down from 15.7 percent in 2011.

Some have attributed the drop in uninsured Americans to early implementations of the health reform law, particularly the provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until age 26.

Among people ages 19 to 25, the proportion who were uninsured declined to 27.2 percent in 2012 from 29.8 percent two years earlier.

Jennings said the numbers show health care reform is making its intended progress. The administration expects the progress to accelerate in the coming months as Americans gain access to coverage via health insurance exchanges.

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