The complex, sweeping law that transforms the healthcare system becomes effective in stages and still is subject to considerable confusion, USA Today reported Thursday.
As the Department of Health and Human Services issues the regulations to implement the law, it also is trying to publicize what the law does through its Web site, healthcare.gov. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently initiated a public information campaign with a cable television ad featuring actor Andy Griffith.
Insurance companies, many of which opposed the law, also are trying to inform the public online.
"There's going to be a lot of information out there," says Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group.
Recent polls indicate seniors and the general public are still confused about the new law's effects, USA Today reported.
"People are still afraid that there are death panels ... or that Medicare is going to go away," said Cheryl Matheis of AARP, the nation's largest organization for seniors. "We have an obligation to get the information out there. Historically, people don't use services as much as the services are available to them, because they're just not aware."
Even though the federal and state governments, insurers, businesses and consumer groups reach out to consumers, individuals must seek out the available care, coverage or tax credits, officials said.
"It's going to take some time for people to understand how the law benefits them," Stephanie Cutter, assistant to the president for special projects, said. "It's critical that there is extensive outreach with consumers, the business community and the insurance industry if we want to ensure the maximum benefits of the law."