Despite an increase in awareness of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a survey from CVS Caremark Corp. reveals that many people eligible to enroll in health insurance exchanges, which open Oct. 1, are seeking help.


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CVS study finds ACA knowledge gap

July 25th, 2013

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Despite an increase in awareness of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a survey from CVS Caremark Corp. reveals that many people eligible to enroll in health insurance exchanges, which open Oct. 1, are seeking help.

CVS said Thursday that its online poll of nearly 1,100 adults, conducted in May by The Research Intelligence Group, found that general awareness of the health care reform law has rose to 74% from 57% in a similar 2011 CVS Caremark survey.

Yet the new survey showed that 36% of respondents likely to enroll in the insurance exchanges need more information and help in assessing the insurance exchange process.

The research also found that perceptions about cost remain the biggest hurdle to the likelihood of enrolling, since just 48% of those who are eligible for a subsidy think that they are able to obtain one.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to help Americans understand the new health care law and how it affects them so consumers receive the coverage that best fits their families," Helena Foulkes, executive vice president and chief health care strategy and marketing officer at CVS Caremark, said in a statement.

Pharmacies will be a key resource for uninsured Americans, with 68% of those polled expecting retail pharmacies to offer health insurance information in stores and/or online, according to the CVS Caremark survey. Among those looking for help, Hispanics newer to the country and the youngest group surveyed (ages 18 to 35) were much more likely to say they need help understanding the exchanges, the study found.

CVS said that to help fill the information gap, it plans to roll out a companywide information and outreach program to assist customers in gaining access to health insurance marketplace information, including retail events and brochure displays at its more than 7,400 drug stores and 650 MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics. Information will also be available online at cvs.com/insurance.

"Even among the 50 million Americans who were uninsured in the last year, most filled at least one prescription," Foulkes added. "Pharmacies hold the key to educating the public about their health care options and helping them on their path to better health."

Under the ACA, plans call for state health insurance exchanges — where uninsured and underinsured Americans can shop for coverage — to go into effect on Oct. 1, and most Americans will be required to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or face tax penalties, according to the so-called "individual mandate."

It's estimated that starting in 2014, more than 30 million Americans previously lacking health insurance will be able to buy health plans through the insurance exchanges or get coverage via broader Medicaid eligibility under the ACA.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration gave larger employers another year to comply with the ACA mandate that they provide health insurance coverage for their workers or pay a penalty. The White House and the Treasury Department said the delay comes in response to complaints by businesses that they didn't have enough time to meet the complex requirements of the health care reform law. With the change, mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements under the ACA won't begin until Jan. 1, 2015, rather than in 2014 as initially called for under the law.

The administration's announcement didn't mention any potential changes to the individual insurance mandate requirement or deadline.

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