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Data Note: 5 Misconceptions Surrounding the ACA

On the seventh anniversary of the passing of the Affordable Care Act, we highlight five of the most common misconceptions surrounding the 2010 health care law.

#1:  Six in Ten Do Not Know the Uninsured Rate has Decreased under the ACA…

But in fact, according to the federal government’s National Health Interview Survey, the U.S. uninsured rate among people under 65 was 10.4 in the second quarter of 2016. In 2010, the year the law was enacted, the rate was 18.2. The most recent Kaiser tracking poll finds that four in ten adults in the U.S. know that the share of people without health insurance has decreased since the 2010 health care law passed, while three in ten say the share has increased and a quarter say it has stayed about the same.

Figure 1: The Uninsured Rate is At An All-Time Low, But The Public Doesn’t Know It

#2:  Half Think the ACA Provides Health Insurance to Undocumented Immigrants…

But in fact, under the health law, undocumented immigrants remained ineligible for Medicaid and are ineligible for tax credits toward premiums for ACA marketplace plans. Half of the public incorrectly thinks the law allows undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance.

Figure 2: Half Incorrectly Say ACA Allows Undocumented Immigrants to Receive Financial Help To Buy Insurance

#3:  Half Don’t Know the ACA Eliminated Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care…

But in fact, the ACA eliminated out-of-pocket costs for a variety of preventive care services including birth control. Overall, many Americans are unaware the 2010 health care eliminated cost-sharing for birth control (53 percent) and preventive services for adults (47 percent) and children (41 percent).

Figure 3: Many Are Unaware ACA Eliminated Out-of-Pocket Costs for Birth Control and Preventive Care

#4:  Four in Ten Think the ACA Cut Medicare Benefits…

But in fact, while the ACA has reduced growth in payments to providers and to private health plans that participate in the Medicare Advantage program, it did not cut benefits for seniors enrolled in the traditional Medicare program. Four in ten Americans incorrectly think the ACA cut benefits for people who are covered by traditional Medicare.

Figure 4: Four in Ten Incorrectly Say ACA Cuts Medicare Benefits

#5:  Three in Ten Think Most Americans Get Health Coverage Through the ACA…

But in fact, most Americans are insured through an employer or through a government program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. Less than 10 percent of Americans are covered by ACA marketplace plans. Overall, 29 percent of the public incorrectly thinks that more Americans get their health coverage through the ACA’s marketplaces than through either an employer or Medicaid or Medicare.

Figure 5: Three in Ten Think Most Americans Get Health Insurance through ACA Exchanges or Marketplaces

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.