When Verizon, the nation's second-largest advertiser ($1.43 billion), runs ads, Americans everywhere know and understand what they're selling. But the more the nation's third-largest advertiser – Obamacare ($1+ billion) – advertises, the less their key audiences seem to know or understand about the product.
"[S]omehow, the public is even less informed about it than before," writes Jim Geraghty in his August 26 Morning Jolt e-newsletter (link unavailable).
"[A]ccording to a troubling conclusion in at least one study earlier this year, awareness about the new health-care law had declined among some groups more than three years after Obamacare was signed," reports CNBC.
As of June, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found, 45 percent of adults 18 to 64 knew "nothing at all" about the insurance exchanges that the Obamacare advertising's been pushing, while fewer than half as many – 22 percent – had heard either "a lot" or "some" about them. Among the uninsured – another prime target – the study found that a majority – 55 percent – said they'd heard "nothing at all" about Obamacare exchanges in their states.
"We certainly haven't seen an increase in public knowledge since the law passed [in 2010]," foundation associate director of surveys Liz Hamel told CNBC – something of an understatement in view of the fact that awareness has been trending the other way. A March Kaiser survey, for example, found that "awareness had decreased."
Among the advertising's key target audience – young, healthy adults whose premiums are needed to subsidize older, sicker and, yes, wealthier Americans' claims – "a whopping 73 percent of adults between the ages of 19 and 29 are unaware of the [exchanges]," a Commonwealth Fund study concluded last week.
This may be a little less disastrous than it sounds, because about half of that age cohort – 19- to 26-year- olds – can ride on their parents' health plans. But even so, says Sara Collins, the study report's co-author, "If you continue to see that very low level of awareness even as you get toward October [when the exchanges are supposed to open], that's a sign that we may not be getting the enrollment, and the exchanges are going to be at a bit of risk from that."
And it's not just among the healthy, young people, whose premiums are so important for cost-shifting.
Among people with pre-existing conditions, whom the government health plan was designed specifically to help, a total of 82 percent surveyed in August by InsuranceQuotes.com said they were either unsure if they'd buy the insurance or were sure they wouldn't. "If these people don't know this law is around the corner and designed to benefit them, then I think that shows a real knowledge gap that I don't think we're going to close before October 1," senior analyst Laura Adams predicted.
So if you're not one of the lucky few who've either been waivered out of Obamacare or who have a health plan they like and can actually keep, you'd better hope that the government's health insurance works better than its health insurance advertising.