Thursday, August 15, 2013

Most who would benefit from insurance exchanges under health reform knew nothing about them last fall

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect millions of Americans, especially those in rural areas. But many are not prepared for the coming changes, according to a survey by Enroll America, a non-profit group that calls itself "a nonpartisan organization whose mission is to maximize the number of uninsured Americans who enroll in health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act" through online insurance marketplaces known as exchanges.

The survey "shows that nearly 80 percent of those who stand to benefit have no idea what an exchange is or how to get the health insurance subsidies they will offer," Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. There's no reason to think the percentage in Kentucky would have been much different at the time of the survey, taken early last fall. State government, which will open its exchange Oct. 1, has been using advertising and other means to inform people who could benefit from the exchange.

"When the exchanges open, anyone who does not already have employer-sponsored insurance will be able to comparison shop for coverage and find out whether they qualify for federal subsidies to help pay for their policies," Vestal notes. "Visitors to federally funded websites and call centers will also find out whether they qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and they’ll be able to sign up for that coverage immediately. Policies purchased on the exchange will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. The Obama administration is scheduled to announce Thursday how it will dole out $54 million in federal money to hire so-called 'navigators' who will help people actually sign up." (Read more)

Clearly, this subject needs more news coverage to inform people about it. To help reporters do that, the Kaiser Family Foundation is holding a series of free, one-hour webinars, beginning Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. ET. For details and registration, click here.

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