New Ga. poll on ACA finds knowledge gaps

A charity dental clinic drew hundreds of uninsured in 2011.
A 2011 charity dental clinic in Woodstock drew hundreds of uninsured Georgians.

The uninsured and young people are the most likely to support the Affordable Care Act and its provisions, a new poll of Georgians finds.

Yet these groups are the least likely to be familiar with the fact that the ACA is still the law of land, and hasn’t been repealed by Congress or struck down by the courts, according to the poll, released Monday by Healthcare Georgia Foundation.

The uninsured stand to gain the most by the law through the health insurance exchanges, which will open for enrollment Oct. 1, and through states’ expansion of their Medicaid programs.

But the poll shows the uninsured “are the ones who know the least about it,’’ said Gary Nelson, president of the foundation.

This lack of awareness could pose a hurdle to effective implementation of the law in the state, the foundation said.

Confusion and lack of awareness about the law are not just a Georgia phenomenon. Still, 27 percent of Georgians say they are not familiar with the ACA, while only 7 percent of people polled nationally are unfamiliar with it. 

Just 39 percent of Georgians approve of the law, with 42 percent not favoring it, according to the poll.

Yet Georgians support some provisions of the law, the survey indicates. At least two-thirds of Georgians support preventing health insurers from denying people coverage due to pre-existing health conditions, a main provision of the law. A similar percentage supports expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income uninsured adults, though Gov. Nathan Deal and top Republican leaders have decided against that move in Georgia.

The poll results appear to mirror the findings of the poll of Georgians released by the AJC over the weekend. The AJC survey found that 6 in 10 have little idea of how the law will affect them.

More than half have an unfavorable view of the health law, the AJC poll found. Yet 60 percent favor its provision to expand the Medicaid program.

The AJC poll found 77 percent of uninsured Georgians said they were not clear on how the law will affect them.

The Healthcare Georgia poll indicates that nearly half strongly disapprove of the ACA requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, a similar percentage to that in the AJC poll.

The Healthcare Georgia poll found that for those with health insurance, 94 percent view their current coverage as either good or adequate.

Yet the poll also showed that the cost of medical services plays a major role in people not seeking health care.

Only 26 percent of Georgians say they are very satisfied with the cost of the health care they receive.