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Poll Finds Young People Want Insurance, But Knowledge of Health Care Law Is Weak

By Rebecca Adams, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

June 19, 2013 -- A strong majority of 18-to-30-year olds—a group whose willingness to buy insurance is central to the success of the new health law exchanges—says that coverage is "very important" and "worth the money it costs," according to a new survey by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 77 percent of those who are 18 to 25 and 71 percent of people 26 to 30 call coverage very important. About 76 percent of the 18-to-25-year-olds and 65 percent of 26-to-30-year-olds say insurance is worth the money.

Among the 18-to-64-year-old surveyed who were uninsured, 40 percent said that the high cost of insurance is the main reason why they aren't covered now. Only 11 percent said they don't need insurance.

The survey also found that 49 percent of adults said that someone in their household would be considered to have a pre-existing condition.

The overall opinions about the health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) remain somewhat negative, with 43 percent saying they have an unfavorable view, 35 percent saying they favor the law, and 23 percent undecided. Support for the overhaul hit a high mark of 50 percent in the Kaiser polls in the summer after the law passed in 2010, and has never gotten above a 45-percent level of approval since then. Of those who have a negative opinion, 33 percent say the law goes too far while 8 percent said it doesn't go far enough and another 2 percent did not give a reason.

The public's understanding of the law remains weak, which is a cause for concern among advocates four months before open enrollment in the exchanges begins on Oct. 1. About 22 percent of respondents said they've heard at least "some" about the health insurance marketplaces for individuals and small businesses.

Among the groups that the law is most designed to help, the knowledge is even less. About 20 percent of lower-income Americans and only 12 percent of the uninsured say they have heard more than a little about the health insurance marketplace so far.

The survey was done in English and Spanish from June 4 through June 9, among a random land line and cell phone sample of 1,505 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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