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Unrealistic expectations driving confusion about health insurance reform Posted: June 7th, 2010

By Kathryn Vercillo

Kathryn Vercillo is a full time freelance writer/blogger with nearly 10 years of writing experience. She has authored two books and contributed to many other print publications.

According to a survey sponsored by eHealth Inc., many Americans are opting to go without medical insurance because they are waiting for health care reform to go into effect. The core problem uncovered by the survey is that many Americans are operating under mistaken beliefs about the health reform law.

Health insurance reform misconceptions

The eHealth survey found that there are several mandates from the health insurance reform law that many believe will be implemented in 2010, but which won't be effective until 2014:

 

  • 60 percent believe that pre-existing medical conditions will no longer be a cause for insurance application denial
  • 39 percent expect government marketplaces or exchanges to be operational.
  • 37 percent think that they will receive subsidies to assist them in purchasing health insurance.
  • 33 percent believe they will be required to purchase health insurance.

 

Even those who know that many of the health reform provisions aren't to be put into place in 2010 may not realize that many parts of the law do not go into effect for several years. In fact, 31 percent of those surveyed believe that the public will have access to all major health reform programs before the close of 2012.

Many reforms go into effect in 2014

Although a few provisions from the health insurance reform legislation go into effect in 2010, including the establishment of temporary high-risk pools for each state and dependent coverage for children up to the age of 26, many reforms will be put into place over the course of the next several years. Some of the reforms that go into effect in 2014 include:

 

  • Access to private insurance regardless of any pre-existing conditions
  • Creation of health insurance exchanges
  • Subsidies to cover the cost of health insurance
  • Requirement to carry insurance

 

Holding out for health reform

The health insurance reform legislation is complicated, so it may not be a surprise that there is confusion surrounding when certain parts of the law go into effect. However, the results of the eHealth survey are of concern because two in five uninsured respondents stated that they would wait for health reform to be fully implemented before exploring or purchasing medical insurance coverage.

For one thing, some incorrectly believe that going without health insurance isn't risky. In fact, 27 percent of Americans believe there is no risk in going without health insurance coverage until health insurance reforms are fully in place.

This may suggest that many of the uninsured might remain without health coverage for up to four years while waiting for reforms to go into effect.