Is Obamacare Failing to Reach Those Who Want It the Most?

We are now just five weeks away from the opening of state-run exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and while we've seen measurable improvements in educating the public regarding this transformative health care bill, there's still a lot left to be done.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, through the end of March the U.S. government had contracted out nearly $400 million in funds to get its cloud-based data center up and running by October 1. The level of complexity needed to connect multiple levels of the government with consumers in order for the state-run exchanges to work properly is difficult to describe -- but just as important is the ability to educate the public about Obamacare.

We're seeing modest improvements
Admittedly, the government believes we have the memory span of a goldfish and has been planning all along to really begin its educational push in the final three weeks leading up to the opening of the state-run exchanges. But, I have to wonder if waiting until the last minute is going to wind up being a big mistake.

In a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll at the end of March, 48% of respondents reported hearing "nothing at all" as to whether an insurance exchange was being set up in their state while another 42% of respondents were unaware that the PPACA was the law of the land. A Gallup poll conducted last week that looked at multiple factors surrounding the PPACA -- including how familiar people were with the bill as well as overall approval -- showed some modest improvement in the bill's educational aspects but also showed many of areas left to be addressed. 

Question

Very

Somewhat

Not too familiar

Not at all

No opinion

How familiar are you with the health care law?

15%

53%

18%

12%

2%

Source: Gallup.

According to Gallup, only 30% of Americans are now considered unfamiliar with the law, which would be a big reduction from the more than 4-in-10 people polled five months ago that were in the dark. The concern that insurers like WellPoint (NYSE: WLP  ) , Molina Healthcare (NYSE: MOH  ) , and Centene (NYSE: CNC  ) should have is that while people are slowly becoming more familiar with the law, those who would benefit the most from it are primarily among the 30% who are still largely unfamiliar with Obamacare. These three insurers should be big beneficiaries of the upcoming Medicaid expansion, but could run into trouble if educational awareness of the bill isn't there when Oct. 1 rolls around.

A worrisome generational gap
Poll question: How familiar are you with the health care law?

Response

18 to 34

35 to 54

55+

Very familiar

10%

18%

18%

Somewhat familiar

53%

53%

54%

Not too familiar/Not familiar at all

36%

28%

26%

Source: Gallup.

First of all, it shouldn't be too much of a shock that older Americans are more familiar with Obamacare since they're considerably more likely to go to the doctor or a hospital than someone who's 18-to-34 years old. Yet, on the other hand, the real target for the aforementioned insurers in this expansion is the younger crowd, of which 36% still claim to be "not too familiar" or "not familiar at all" with Obamacare.

Some states have come up with innovative ways to potentially reach these younger individuals, including Oregon's plans to use musicians and advertising on branded coffee cups to reach people, and California's attempts to teach children in school about the bill who would, in turn, take that information home and explain it to their parents, family members, and friends.

But, I seriously have to wonder if the government isn't cutting this just a bit close. The vast majority of people who disapprove of Obamacare are those who place themselves among the "most familiar" with the bill that meaning those who should benefit the most -- and, according to Gallup, feel the most positive about this bill -- won't understand exactly how they're going to benefit, possibly negating the benefit of a transparent health insurance marketplace.

Unless something is done relatively soon to curb this generational education gap in the PPACA, insurers may wind up disappointed come Oct. 1, and the success of the PPACA early on will definitely be thrown under an even more powerful microscope.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 8:27 PM, mpgross wrote:

    Who cares, it's a train wreck just waiting for a place to happen.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 8:31 PM, mpgross wrote:

    So, you only want comments that further your brainwashing.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 8:35 PM, mortmain wrote:

    It's popular with everybody but the taxpayers.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 9:18 PM, brad1breather wrote:

    it would depend on haw many insurance companies soros and his bud own. they are probably going to get much richer along with the puppet.

    as far as you and i go,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    we're screwed big time i think.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 9:35 PM, roger142 wrote:

    maybe a lot of people don't know enough because most articles about the ACA never mention the health care dot gov web site?

    I have noticed the past few weeks there has been a lot more commercials on TV for health insurance companies selling individual policies.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 10:08 PM, asimplecarpenter wrote:

    Are these the same people who can tell you what football team plays for what city but can't tell you the name of the name their own house representative? Or anybody on SCOTUS?

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 10:13 PM, CommieLibNot wrote:

    Healthcare is almost 20% of the economy - ACA will force complete socialization of healthcare and is the beginning of a totally socialized USA. Flush, Swirl... C ya

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2013, at 10:18 PM, sagehopper wrote:

    Those who "want it most"? Gimme a damn break. NOBODY wants it except for Obama and the big insurance companies. Cause they will make more money off of it than Creasus..

  • Report this Comment On August 27, 2013, at 1:34 AM, binlang wrote:

    The government must think the people are stupid. They come up with an insurance for the people but exempt themselves because we the people will be paying for their insurance which is much better and cost nothing to them. As well Muslims and special groups are also exempt (lots of Mexicans). That sounds like me taking my dog to the vet. I know it is going to hurt and so does the dog. Is he going peacefully, hell no. All in all Obama could never get down to an average American's level that would be struggling to pay 200 a month when he make's 20,000 a week. And to make each American do this may be impossible.

  • Report this Comment On August 27, 2013, at 1:50 AM, clloyd53 wrote:

    We have suspended out of pocket limits for at least the first year. But please sign up and you should have an idea what it will cost you. The first time you or your family gets sick.

  • Report this Comment On August 27, 2013, at 6:55 AM, jmc0711 wrote:

    Obama Care is awesome news! No one will be denied healthcare because of any pre-existing conditions. Instead of the Republicans/Teaparty coming up with good ideas of their own, they have wasted the last 4 years, trying to find ways to destroy President Obama, and punish minorities by taking away voting rights, women rights, ect. because we didn't vote for them, and elected a Black President to run this country. CRITICAL ERROR! on part of the GOP/Teaparty. The GOP/Teaparty is thought of among minorities groups as being controlling, and having radical, bizarre behavior. .... it could be 20 yrs before there will be a another Republican President. Working together was the KEY to working with President Obama, and the GOP/Teabags couldn't do it, because they let skin color get in the way.

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