Forty-two percent of Americans are unaware that Obamacare still exists. Even after the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2012, even after countless media stories about the benefits already being experienced under Obamacare, nearly half of the population polled in this Kaiser Family Foundation poll still think it has been repealed.
Why do people think Obamacare no longer exists? There are several possible reasons. The House of Representatives has voted to repeal it 37 times, and the news often reports that as a "successful" vote, even though these repeal votes never reach the Senate or the White House where they would have been vetoed. Another reason may be that the main source of information for 40 percent of those polled was "conversations with friends and family," the second source was "media," and the third source was "cable TV news." Any one of these sources might well have communicated inaccurate information. A third reason might be that while part of Obamacare has already kicked in (no pre-existing condition requirement for kids, adult children on parents' plan until 26, free preventive care, cheaper drugs for seniors, etc.), those provisions don't touch every family, particularly families that have not had to seek medical care or worry about their insurance. People are simply not talking about it -- the uninsured have chatted less frequently with friends and family than those who have insurance -- and those who have may not share the right information.
The main provision of Obamacare is the ability for individuals and small businesses to buy cheaper, more comprehensive health insurance through a marketplace or exchange. These marketplaces will go into effect in January 2014. There will be a lot of media attention about them in the months to come. If you are employed and have insurance through your workplace -- or if you are on Medicare -- you will not need these marketplaces. Your insurance will still be there and even better, because the ACA requires that consumers get preventive care screenings without copays and "essential benefits" that cover maternity, drugs, mental health services -- benefits that not all private or employer plans cover.
There have been a lot of dour predictions that insurance sold through these marketplaces will be expensive and unaffordable. But even before implementation, costs have moderated, and the prices for health plans through the exchange released in the states of Oregon and Washington this past week have been surprisingly competitive. Not every state will implement the ACA in the same way. Vermont will have a "single payer" approach; the Pennsylvania legislature is currently debating a single-payer initiative SB 400 introduced by Senator Ferlo; California, Oregon, Washington, Maryland will all have robust marketplaces ready to go by 2014.
Do your part to spread the word with your "friends and family" -- through Facebook, Tumblr and other social media -- Obamacare still exists. It is already being implemented and it will continue to be implemented in January 2014. If you ever had a doubt that elections matter, 2012 should have settled that. If Romney were president and the Senate controlled by Republicans, it is highly likely that Obamacare would have been repealed. Since the Republicans did not win, Obamacare is here to stay. Like Medicare before it, satisfaction with the program is likely to grow over time. At least make your contribution one of factual information. Here is how you can find out what it means for you. Check out this site, this one, this one or this one. There IS good information out there.