Posted on 13 Sep 2010
Earlier this year, Congress passed sweeping reforms designed to revamp the health care system and increase access to care for many Americans. Yet, according to a new survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), many consumers are confused about the provisions and unsure of timing for actual implementation.
When asked to choose from four dates for which the first health care reform provisions officially take effect, only 14 percent correctly identified Sept. 23, 2010.
“Our survey findings are a clear indicator that most Americans are not aware of how soon some of the early health care changes may impact them,” said NAIC President and West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane L. Cline. “It’s essential for consumers to understand what to expect and when to consult their state insurance departments for more information.”
When asked about specific reform provisions that take effect Sept. 23, most respondents correctly identified provisions concerning children. Specifically, 72 percent knew that children with pre-existing conditions may not be excluded from coverage and 70 percent understood that individuals up to age 26 may be covered under their parents’ insurance.
However, half of the respondents were under the impression that employers with fewer than 50 employees will have to offer coverage to employees, and 47 percent incorrectly thought that all health insurance plans must cover approved preventive care and checkups without co-payment.
In reality, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required by the new law to provide health insurance to staff, and all co-payments for preventive care and checkups are not eliminated. However, those qualifying for Medicare will receive new preventive care benefits that will include annual visits free of co-payments, but this is not mandated for all health insurance plans.
“The results show that while most consumers are well attuned to provisions specifically affecting their children’s health care, they do not grasp the overall reform framework,” said Cline. “It’s promising to see this, but we feel it necessary for consumers to fully understand the changes and get informed about what to expect.”
To keep up with the complex health reform process that includes multiple implementation phases in the coming years, the NAIC urges consumers to contact their state insurance department with questions. Go to http://map.naic.org to find your state contact information.
In addition, the NAIC website has a special section dedicated to health care reform questions and resources.
About the Survey
The NAIC conducted the Insurance IQ Omnibus survey by phone Aug. 12 to 15, 2010, to highlight consumer knowledge of health care reform provisions. The participant sample included a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults age 18 and older.