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Survey demonstrates low U. S. literacy about the ACA

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A new survey conducted by Silvia Helena Barcellos from the University of Southern California and colleagues from the University of Munich and the RAND Corporation found that the majority of people in the United States were and are poorly prepared to make a decision about the options offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) according to their report in the March 24, 2014, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers based their conclusion on interviews with 6,000 people that were representative of the groups of people most likely to be able to take advantage of the ACA. The interviews were conducted five weeks prior to the introduction of the exchanges.

The test group was 75 percent white, 25 percent nonwhite, almost equally distributed between males and females, and were 62 percent from blue states and 38 percent from red states.

Half of the respondents did not know the ACA exchange existed and 42 percent did not know the definition of a deductible. The uninsured had higher rates of ignorance of basic health insurance concepts than the insured. Knowledge of health insurance and the ACA increased with levels of education and income.

No group expected out-of pocket expenses or emergency room costs to decrease due to the ACA. No group expected to have better access to care or that the quality of care would improve due to the ACA.

The researchers conclude that presentation of the lower costs options to the uninsured and emphasis on Medicaid could relive the state of ignorance of health insurance in the United States.

The ACA website has provided easy to understand insurance terminology and has a zip code accessible search function that will provide an individual with trained assistance in finding affordable health insurance plans.

One cannot but think that the health insurance companies were banking on this level of ignorance when they produced their “improved” and much more expensive coverage to coincide with the implementation of the ACA.

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