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Majority of Americans Unaware of Impact of Affordable Care Act

  • Synopsis: Published: 2014-10-15 - According to a new study majority of Americans do not appear to understand impact and implications of the landmark legislation - HealthMarkets, Inc. (

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Quote: "The Affordable Care Act has changed the health insurance landscape tremendously and nearly everyone agrees that having more people insured is positive."

Despite more than $73 billion of federal government spending on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) since 2010 and with just one month to go before open enrollment begins on November 15th, a majority of Americans still do not appear to understand the impact and implications of the landmark legislation, according to a new study conducted on behalf of HealthMarkets, Inc.

Although the ACA provides numerous benefits, rights and protections to health insurance consumers, 59 percent of Americans do not believe the law has had an impact on their lives, according to the survey of more than 1,000 Americans. Of those who do believe the ACA has impacted them;

  • The vast majority (78 percent) view the effects as negative.
  • 48 percent claim that their taxes are higher.
  • 55 percent claim their health insurance is more expensive under the law.
  • Only 20 percent believe they now have better coverage.

Equally striking is the finding that across income levels, the amount that Americans say they can afford to spend out-of-pocket on health care costs annually is far below the deductibles, co-pays and other costs for most health plans offered on the exchange. Even those who qualify for additional caps on out-of-pocket health care costs say they can only afford a fraction of their potential expenses.

  • For example, the survey finds that households earning the current U.S. median income of approximately $52,000 believe they can afford to spend up to an average of $976(1) on out-of-pocket health care costs annually, while in reality that same household with four family members could face costs of up to $10,400 under a Silver Plan.
  • This precarious situation is compounded by the fact that only 39 percent of American households have long-term disability insurance that provides direct financial relief in the event of sustained illness that prevents the primary earner from working.

"The Affordable Care Act has changed the health insurance landscape tremendously and nearly everyone agrees that having more people insured is positive. However, current educational efforts have not produced the level of understanding required to ensure Americans are making informed decisions to protect both their physical and financial health," said Kenneth Fasola, President and Chief Executive Officer of Health-Markets, Inc. "Just because someone is covered by a qualified health plan with monthly premiums they can afford, does not mean that they have selected a plan they can afford to use or that they are adequately protected from financial hardship in the event of a serious medical problem. With legislation this significant and complex, it is critical that the right resources are in place to create informed consumers."

Other key findings include:

  • Across income levels, the median out-of-pocket health care costs Americans can spend before facing financial difficulty is $616 per year. Among Americans with household incomes of $100,000 or more, the median affordable costs are only $3,401 per year, well below potential expenses of a Silver Plan.
  • Five percent of Americans receive their insurance from a licensed broker or agent. Close to three-fourths receive their insurance from either their employer (55 percent) or through a government program (18 percent).

About the Survey

The survey, conducted by ORC International on behalf of HealthMarkets, Inc., used a dual-frame sampling design and is comprised of responses from 1,015 adults living in the continental United States. The study was conducted from September 4-7, 2014 and final data was weighted by gender, religion, age and education to assure results are reflective of the overall U.S. adult population. Click here to see detailed findings.

HealthMarkets, Inc. is a holding company focused on serving the insurance needs of individuals, families, and small business through its subsidiary insurance and distribution companies.

(1) Average expected affordability of households earning $50,000 - $74,999

Related Information:

  1. Obamacare - Nearly Half of Americans Can Not Explain a Deductible - University of Southern California - (2014-03-26)
  2. ICD-10: International Classification of Diseases Information - Thomas C. Weiss - (2014-02-14)
  3. Social Security Disability Benefits and Obamacare Penalties - Reyes & Reyes Law Firm, PLLC - (2013-12-05)

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