Uninsured, a key target of health reform, don’t expect to be affected by the law

A principal goal of federal health reform is to reduce the ranks of the uninsured. But a new poll shows that about half of those without insurance don’t expect the law to affect them one way or another.

It’s another piece of evidence that the Affordable Care Act is still not well understood more than a year after its passage. The poll, taken by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that 47 percent of the uninsured “do not expect to be affected by the health reform law, either positively or negatively.”

That’s despite that fact that the law requires almost everyone to purchase insurance, providing subsidies and expanded Medicaid coverage to those who can’t afford it right now. As Kaiser notes, the law is expected to help an additional 32 million Americans get health insurance coverage.

Kaiser President Drew Altman explores this contradiction in a column analyzing the poll results.”We know from survey after survey that the uninsured want insurance coverage,” he writes.  “And we know that the main reason they don’t have it is that they cannot afford it…. But surprisingly, only three in ten of the uninsured say the ACA will help them get health care.”

He says one explanation is that most uninsured Americans are “very busy supporting their families and getting through the day, and they simply do not know much about the ACA, at least not yet.”

So while pundits on the right and left have taken firm and divided views on it, many of those most directly impacted have still not tuned in.