Friday, August 6, 2010

Most Seniors Unaware Of Key Provisions Of The Affordable Care Act

The majority of the nation’s seniors do not understand the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a recent poll from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). The survey found that only 17% of survey respondents could correctly answer half of the 12 questions asked about key provisions of the law. Furthermore, none of the 636 respondents answered all 12 questions correctly.

NCOA found that only 22% of seniors understood that the Affordable Care Act would not cut their basic Medicare benefits. Almost twice as many seniors (42%) held the incorrect view that the law would cut their basic Medicare benefits, while 37% said they did not know. Even among the older adults who said they considered themselves “very familiar” (9%) or “familiar” (12%) with the new law, 65% still got less than half of the answers right, according to the survey.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found similar results in their July Health Tracking Poll. According to KFF, 52% of seniors were aware that the new law will result in premium increases for some higher income Medicare beneficiaries, and 50% knew that the new law will gradually close Medicare’s “doughnut hole.” However, only 33% are aware that the Affordable Care Act will eliminate Medicare’s copayments and deductibles for some preventive services.

On the other hand, KFF found that large shares of seniors mistakenly believe the law includes provisions that cut some previously universal Medicare benefits and creates “death panels.” Half of seniors said that the law will cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and 36% incorrectly believe the law will “allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.”

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