Most Americans Don't Understand Obamacare, Survey Shows

A new survey has found that more than 60 percent of the population targeted for enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, or President Obama's signature healthcare law, do not understand key insurance concepts, which could be a reason behind the delay on the part of the uninsured.

More than 60 percent of those most likely to use the marketplaces to purchase coverage say they are not too confident or not at all confident in their understanding of at least one concept related to health insurance, such as premium, deductible, co-payments and coinsurance, the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey has found.

The survey, a new initiative, tracks three factors related to the health care law implementation, which are insurance coverage, access to care and healthcare affordability, on a quarterly basis.

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Almost 40 percent feel very or somewhat confident that they understand all the insurance terms – premiums, deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance, maximum annual out-of-pocket spending limits, provider networks, covered services, annual limits on services and non-covered or excluded services, showed the survey that was published in the journal Health Affairs.

"Confusion around these concepts would make it difficult for consumers to understand trade-offs between different health insurance plans and to choose the plans that best meet their needs," survey authors said, adding that they suggest that "assisting people as they attempt to enroll in health coverage will require targeted education efforts and staff to support those with low health insurance literacy."

The survey, conducted June-July 2013, found that about 44 percent say they feel confident that they understand all five terms related to costs and 50 percent say they understand all four terms related to access to care and benefits, such as provider network and covered services.

Only 23.6 percent of uninsured respondents, and less than a third of those ages 18-30, were confident that they understood these concepts.

While the main stated objective of Obamacare is to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance, the uninsured have uniformly lower confidence in their understanding of each insurance term than those currently purchasing individual coverage, the survey indicated.

The survey also found that the primary source of health insurance information was interpersonal, including friends, co-workers, and family members, who perhaps share the target population's confusion about key insurance concepts.

The survey noted that confidence in understanding these concepts was particularly lower among young adults, Spanish speakers, the uninsured, and people who had lower levels of education.

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