Baltimore Business Journal
November 19, 2012
By Sarah Gantz

Maryland residents who stand to benefit most from the federal Affordable Care Act know the least about the law, according to a survey released Monday by the Horizon Foundation and the Maryland Health Care for All Coalition.

Low-income, minority and less-educated voters are among the demographics least aware of the provisions of the Obama Administration’s landmark health care reform law, according to a report on the survey’s findings. Overall, about 59 percent of survey respondents said they support the law, but only about 30 percent said they knew a lot about the law’s provisions.

Those numbers suggest there is significant room for improvement in educating the public about the law before it fully goes into effect January 2014.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure everyone who is eligible for the provisions knows about them and takes advantage of them,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of Maryland Health Care for All Coalition.

DeMarco’s group and the Horizon Foundation, a Howard County health care organization, commissioned Lake Research Partners of Washington, D.C., to conduct the survey. The research firm surveyed 1,413 voters by phone between Sept. 14 and Sept. 23.

The survey found that 62 percent of voters who earn less than $30,000 a year, 58 percent of women who did not attend college and 55 percent of African-American women said they knew “a little or not much” about the health care law.

Overall, more than half (59 percent) of voters said they support or strongly support the law, according to the survey report. Nineteen percent said they oppose the law and 22 percent said they weren’t sure how they felt about it.

Doctors and nurses are among the most trusted sources of information about the law, according to the survey.

DeMarco said his organization is working closely with hospitals and other provider groups to spread the word about the law. MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, hosted a press conference in Baltimore on Monday to announce the survey’s results.

Among the provisions of the law that could be particularly beneficial to low-income residents are tax incentives for purchasing insurance through state-run health benefit exchanges.

“What’s at stake is that people won’t get the benefits they’re entitled to,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president of the Horizon Foundation.

Last modified: November 19, 2012