Chains work to educate prospective ACA patients

One of the biggest problems with the healthcare reform law is that a lot of people out there don't fully understand it.

To educate the general public about the law, a few organizations have come up with simple, online tools aimed at dispelling the confusion.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released last month an animated video designed to help people understand the changes to the healthcare system that the law will bring. The video, titled "The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare" and written and produced by former ABC News anchor Charlie Gibson, explains the changes in how Americans will get coverage and the costs starting next year.

A Kaiser poll back in April found that 42% of Americans were unaware that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is still on track to be implemented, though the Obama administration last month said it would allow a key provision of the law, the requirement for employers to help employees obtain coverage, wait until 2015.

A survey last month by CVS Caremark also found knowledge gaps about the law. The survey found that general awareness of the Affordable Care Act had increased to 74%, up from 57% in a 2011 survey. But 36% of respondents who were likely to enroll in health exchanges needed more information and help in evaluating the insurance exchange process.

More than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said they expected retail pharmacies to offer health insurance in stores or online. In an effort to fill the information gap, CVS Caremark will roll out a company-wide information and outreach program to help customers gain access to critical health insurance marketplace information, including retail events, brochure displays and online at CVS.com/insurance.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to help Americans understand the new healthcare law and how it affects them so consumers receive the coverage that best fits their families," CVS Caremark EVP and chief healthcare strategy and marketing officer Helena Foulkes said.

Another educational effort comes from Walgreens and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The national campaign centers on a website, LearnAboutReform.com, which offers consumers information about the ways they can purchase health insurance and the benefits available to them.

"Many Americans have had little experience purchasing health coverage and are confused about what the law means to them," Blue Cross Blue Shield SVP strategic services and chief strategy officer Maureen Sullivan said. "Blue companies have been working hard to help consumers navigate this new environment and the coverage options that are available to them. Our partnership with Walgreens is another example of our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have the tools they need to understand these changes and access affordable health insurance coverage that meets their needs."

The website includes easy-to-understand explanations of what the law means for consumers; answers to questions about eligibility for federal financial assistance, the individual mandate and penalties for not purchasing insurance; an explanation of the enrollment process and how health insurance exchanges will work; and an interactive glossary of terms related to the law.

"Walgreens is a trusted community resource for health-and-wellness information, and through this collaboration, we hope the millions of Americans who will be entering the marketplace in October are more informed and better prepared," Walgreens SVP and chief strategy officer Brad Fluegel said.

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