Short Takes On News & Events

Survey: Key Groups Unaware Of Health Law Benefits

By Christian Torres

April 19th, 2012, 6:12 AM

Despite the millions of people who have gained insurance coverage as a result of the health law, a survey released Thursday shows outreach efforts for two popular provisions are missing key parts of their target audience.

Percent of respondents
who say they are unaware of …
 Under-26 provisionHigh-risk pools
Age 19-2940%54%
Age 30-493851
Age 50-642837
Other/Mixed Race or Ethnicity3951
Income below 250% FPL5463
Income 250% FPL or more2539
“Fair/poor health status, or any chronic condition or disability”3545
Parent with a child under 263653
Source: The Commonwealth Fund.

The Commonwealth Fund’s report on gaps in health insurance found that more than 60 percent of survey respondents know about a provision that allows children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance. Meanwhile, half know about the law’s high-risk insurance pools. For both of these provisions, though, a significant number of people likely to benefit remain in the dark.

For example, 40 percent of respondents age 19 to 29 didn’t know about the benefit that permits those under 26 to obtain coverage from their parents’ plan. When asked about the high-risk pools, 45 percent of people in fair or poor health and 65 percent of people who were uninsured didn’t know about that coverage option.

“It’s indicative that there are differences in what people are hearing” about the law, said Sara Collins, a vice president of the Commonwealth Fund and one of the report’s authors. “There’s a need to get information to the people who will benefit.”

According to the survey, awareness of the health law’s provisions varied greatly depending on income. Fifty-four percent of respondents who had incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level were unaware of the under-26 provision, compared to just 25 percent at or above that line. For the high-risk pools it was 63 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

Both parts of the law address important gaps in coverage also highlighted by Thursday’s report. Among the more than 2,000 respondents, slightly more than a quarter went without insurance at some point in the year prior; 69 percent had gone without insurance for more than a year.

The under-26 provision has allowed 2.5 million young adults to gain coverage, according to a government report, and brought down the uninsured rate by a few percentage points. A recent analysis by Gallup, however, speculated that the young adult uninsured rate has hit a plateau since the health law took effect.

“There’s a robust level of awareness” for under-26 coverage, said Jennifer Mishory, deputy director for Young Invincibles, a pro-health law group focused on young adults. She added that gaps in awareness can largely be attributed to traditionally underserved, uninsured groups that are less engaged in health insurance.

Case in point: the Hispanic population, which the survey found had much less knowledge of the health law’s coverage expansions. Thirty-eight percent were aware of the under-26 provision and 28 percent for the high-risk pools, compared with 71 percent and 57 percent, respectively, among white respondents.

Mishory said that Young Invincibles is looking to partner on outreach with community health centers, which address uninsured populations, as well as develop a smartphone application to spread awareness. The group is also in the middle of a nationwide bus tour.

“We need to do more,” said Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for Families USA, a group that supports the health law. She described how “it takes a while for programs like these to break through.” People with pre-existing conditions are a particular challenge, because individual states run the high-risk pools with varied levels of publicity.

And in a surprise, as Stoll noted, Republicans showed greater awareness than Democrats for the health law provisions: 74 percent versus 65 percent for the under-26 rule, and 60 percent versus 52 percent for high-risk pools.

The poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks for the Commonwealth Fund, surveyed 2,134 adults between June 24 and July 5, 2011 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

4 Responses to “Survey: Key Groups Unaware Of Health Law Benefits”

  1. harry says:

    America’s youth? Too busy playing video games and visiting the tanning salons. A generation of morons!

  2. Chris says:

    It isn’t that youth or minorities are stupid. It’s that a Republican Congress has misrepresented and tried to thwart implementation of the ACA, while the Obama administration and community groups have failed to publicize the president’s most enduring achievement.

  3. ken lyn says:

    In March of this year, President Barak Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, officially known as H.R. 3590, or Healthcare Reform. Part of this law will require that by 2014, most Americans must purchase government regulated health insurance. In fact, Section 1501 of the act adds a new chapter to the IRS code that mandates all “applicable” individuals to either obtain health insurance that meets the bill’s “minimum essential coverage” standards. If they do not, they will be required to pay a penalty.

    Religious Conscious Exemptions

    There are, however, some healthcare bill exemptions. First, the new law creates a religious conscience exemption for those who are members and faithful adherents of a recognized religious sect or division. The provision may exempt those individuals from the mandatory health insurance purchase requirement if they are members of religions that have established tenets or teachings that bar the “acceptance of the benefits of any private or public insurance.”

    The religious conscience exemption is defined as:

  4. Ian says:
    Ian Welch

    Americans are not just becoming uninsured; they are staying that way.  26% of Americans aged 16 to 64 had no health insurance for part of 2011.

    Nearly 50 million Americans had no health insurance in 2010.

    1 out of 4 have no health insurance.

    2 out of 3 will develop either; cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

    The odds are that many Americans will by affected by a chronic disease while they are uninsured.  I have read horror stories regarding families that have literally lost everything as a result of medical bills and the inability to work.

    If I was uninsured, avoiding a chronic disease would be at the forefront of my priority list; not that it isn’t for the insured as well.  Having a stroke or diabetes can be extremely detrimental to your ability to maintain employment; not  to mention the costs associated with the disease.

    A gentleman that works in my building recently expressed to me that he could barely afford the diabetes medicine he is taking.  He is obese and takes at a minimum of ten different drugs.  However, he absolutely refuses to change his diet and vehemently defends his meat, as his right as an American.

    By adopting a diet that has a very high degree of success in decreasing your chances of contracting a chronic disease you are in essence providing yourself with an Insurance Plan.

    The groundbreaking book, The China Study, authored by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, reveals what can be described as a startling, yet wholly intuitive, relationship between nutrition and disease. Dr. Campbell found that a whole-foods, plant-based diet can not only lower your risk for certain diseases, it can reverse their progression.

    The 20-year China Study allowed Campbell to test and compare laboratory findings against a participating human population. Across China, over 100 villages participated – and the findings were consistent: a high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those eating primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.

    The key of this nutritional dietary overhaul: avoiding meat, dairy and processed foods and oil of any kind.

    Being uninsured is a terrible situation to be in but there are steps that can reduce your chances of being in a catastrophic situation.

    A great movie outlining this scenario is; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.  If you have a chance watch it.  It outlines a very simple process to “reboot” your health.