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Americans are still confused about healthcare law, survey finds

The majority of people are unaware of the basic benefits that Healthcare.gov plans have to cover, as well as changes made to healthcare law.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Nearly 79 percent of Americans don't know when federal open enrollment takes place this year, compared to 76 percent last year, according to an annual survey from digital insurance marketplace Policygenius -- suggesting people are still confused about key components of the Affordable Care Act.

IMPACT

The level of confusion seems to be on the rise. More than 80 percent of respondents don't know the basic benefits that plans sold on Healthcare.gov must cover, compared to 78 percent in 2017.

And only 7.6 percent of people without insurance know all of the essential health benefits of the ACA, compared to 23.3 percent of people who have health insurance.

In particular, the survey participants seemed acutely unaware or confused about some of the major changes that have been made to the ACA and healthcare laws over the past year or so.

One in four, for example, believe there's still a federal tax penalty for foregoing health insurance. About 26 percent think Obamacare was formally repealed in 2018, up from 13 percent in 2017.

About 88 percent don't know that short-term health plans, which are not ACA-compliant, can now last for up to three years.

Policygenius commissioned Google Consumer Surveys to survey a nationally representative sample of 1,501 adults ages 18 and older online from October 1-4. The survey's margin of error is between 4 and 5 percent.

IMPACT

Despite the knowledge gaps, most Americans appear to come down in favor of the ACA, at least in some form. 

According to the results of the July Kaiser Family Foundation's Health Tracking Poll, a majority believe the Trump administration is sabotaging the ACA to the country's detriment and said they will hold the Administration responsible for what happens as a result of those changes.

Almost six in 10 Americans, or 56 percent, said they think President Trump and his administration are trying to make the ACA fail, while 32 percent said they believe the Trump Administration is trying to make the law work.

ON THE RECORD

"The current political climate has heightened confusion, but awareness is a chronic issue when it comes to Americans' understanding of our current healthcare law," said Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO and co-founder of Policygenius. "If you need health insurance, it's important to know the marketplaces are opening on November 1 and subsidies are still available for people in need."

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com