A new poll shows Americans are either confused about how the Affordable Care Act works or worried about its costs. The health exchanges launch Tuesday amid a looming government shutdown, in which a one-year delay of the law is on the table.
- Half of Americans polled are confused about how the Affordable Care Act works or worried about how much it will cost them.
- The exchanges open on Oct. 1 and the survey found little enthusiasm about the program among ordinary people, and splits among party lines.
- Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said they were very or somewhat worried that they would have to pay more for their health care.
- No one really knows who will sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but the success of the law depends on whether the right mix of people will buy health insurance.
- A "death spiral" could happen if most of the people who sign up for insurance are sick and it costs a lot of money to take care of them. To cover the high health cost, the insurance company raises its premiums the next day. It creates a pattern of only sick people signing up so the insurance company has to raise prices again. The insurance eventually gets so expensive that no one buys it and the whole system falls apart.
- The law's designers knew of this danger and implemented penalties for those that don't have health insurance and subsidies for those that do sign up and qualify.