A handful of states have begun to roll out awareness campaigns about the Affordable Care Act this summer, but state and federal outreach efforts are expected to become more active after Labor Day.
Analysts say they face a double-barreled challenge in trying to get the word out. First, making people understand how insurance coverage will work. Secondly, building trust in so-called Obamacare.
"Trust is a critical element, because people in general are confused," said Jon Kingsdale, a managing director of Wakely Consulting Group, who served as the executive director of the Massachusetts Health Connector when the Bay State launched its universal health insurance program in 2006.
"Insurance is incredibly complex. Most people don't get it, let alone the Affordable Care Act," he explained, adding that the complicating factor for the Obama administration and the states this fall is that the law remains unpopular. A recent Kaiser tracking poll found 43 percent of Americans still view Obamacare unfavorably.
"There is a lot of political controversy around the Affordable Care Act," Kingsdale said.
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In Washington, the administration has been under increasing pressure to defend the integrity of the federal insurance exchange, the online gateway through which Americans in more than 30 states will sign up for health coverage and will determine whether they qualify for government tax credits to help pay for their premiums.
With less than 90 days until the start of open enrollment, the exchange infrastructure is still being built and there are concerns the system will not be ready in time for October. A recent report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) raised doubts about the tight deadline for implementation.
During a hearing last week, members of the House Oversight Committee grilled officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) about the status of security and privacy controls being built into the infrastructure of the federal system.
"Are you 100 percent finished establishing appropriate privacy protections?" Rep. Scott DesJarlais asked skeptically, with reference to the GAO report.
"No, we are not," replied the administration's point man on the build out of the exchanges, Henry Chao, the deputy director of the Office of Information Services at CMS.
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