Americans Confused on Health Care Changes

The health insurance exchanges open nationwide in just two months and the exchanges aren't the only thing not ready - almost a third of Americans still aren't familiar with the Affordable Care Act.

The health insurance exchanges open nationwide in just two months and the exchanges aren’t the only thing not ready. According to a recent Gallup poll, almost a third of Americans still aren’t familiar with the Affordable Care Act.

Only 15% of Americans say they are very familiar with the health care law, while 18% says they are not too familiar and 12% admit to being not at all familiar with the law.

Unfortunately for the Obama administration, those who say they are very or somewhat familiar (53%) with the law are more likely to disapprove of it. However, those who are unfamiliar with the law are more split: 36% approve, 39% disapprove and 21% are not sure.

America’s 18- to 34-year-olds are the least familiar with the law, but the are the one age group with more approving than disapproving the law.

“Admittedly, the administration and like-minded groups still have some time to educate the public about the law, but they have a lot of distance to cover in terms of ensuring that the country truly understands the changes coming to the health care system,” wrote Gallup.

Overall, half of Americans disapprove the law, 41% approve of it and 11% have no opinion. The only time people were more approving than disapproving was right after Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election.

While a third of Americans believe the ACA will make the health care situation in the U.S. better, 47% expect it to make things worse and 16% don’t think the law will make much of a difference.

The ACA isn’t the only area of health care where Americans are proving to be confused. A survey from Fidelity Investments revealed that while more employers are offering health savings accounts (HSA) to help curb costs, 65% of those who make household health benefits decisions don’t understand how an HSA works.

The number of Americans in HSA-eligible health plans is expected to rise 73% by the end of 2015, according to research by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications on behalf of Fidelity.

With an HSA, account holders can carry-over remaining funds year to year, but 73% of respondents thought an HSA was pretty much like a health flexible spending account (which has a “use it or lose it” provision”) or were unsure.

“Health savings accounts provide a tremendous opportunity for American employees to take better control of their health care spending while also benefitting from the tax advantages afforded by the accounts,” William Applegate, vice president of Fidelity Investments, said in a statement. “The special tax advantages of these accounts allow employees to accumulate funds over their working life and withdraw funds tax-free for qualified medical expenses in retirement.”