Study: Iowans Will Need Help Finding Health Plans
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - A University of Iowa study has found that the vast majority of potential users of the new health insurance exchanges anticipate needing help using the system.
In a report to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the UI’s Public Policy Center concludes from its study that users of the Health Insurance Marketplace face several challenges including lack of familiarity with the Affordable Care Act and unease using an online system to choose health insurance.
The survey polled Iowa health insurance consumers earlier this year in a collaborative effort to help the state develop education and outreach programs around use of the new marketplace.
Participants listed cost as the most important factor in choosing an insurance plan, and many wanted one-on-one help in making a selection, according to UI officials. Respondents reported having the most confidence in marketplace information provided by a human resource department, printed materials, community resources or health care providers.
The report found significant challenges in educating the population and getting them enrolled in the marketplace, according to Peter Damiano, director of the UI Public Policy Center.
“Many who would be most able to benefit from the subsidized insurance in the marketplace will have serious challenges understanding if this is appropriate for them, and how to enroll and select a plan,” Damiano said. “They will need assistance."
Many prospective users of the marketplace also might be unfamiliar with the health care delivery system in general, posing another challenge, according to UI officials.
The Health Insurance Marketplace are part of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. It is aimed at providing users a way to buy regulated private health insurance with subsidies from the government for people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
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