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Consumer Assistance in Health Reform

With the open enrollment period for health insurance exchanges less than six months away, consumers are already asking questions about their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even in the age of digital information, hands-on consumer assistance could play a key role in helping people understand their insurance choices come 2014 — a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that two thirds of the uninsured and a majority of Americans overall say they have too little information to know how the ACA will affect them.

This brief outlines the need for hands-on consumer assistance, the resources available under the ACA to fill this need, and the implementation issues that may impact the effectiveness of consumer assistance efforts. It lays out specific situations that may cause confusion for consumers, such as determining eligibility for subsidies; distinguishes between different sources of consumer assistance; and identifies factors that vary from state to state that could influence the effectiveness of these efforts.

Issue Brief (.pdf)