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Many Americans say they still don't understand the new healthcare law

January 24, 2011 |  4:54 pm

Politicians in Washington are battling furiously over last year’s healthcare reform law.

But many of those most affected by it -- American workers and employers -- say they still don’t know much about the law, although they expect it will cost them money.

Among consumers, 37% of people say they are not very knowledgeable about the law, and 18% say they know nothing about it, according to survey data from the Society for Human Resource Management and the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A little more than 1 in 3 people say they are somewhat knowledgeable about it.

When asked if they were comfortable in their understanding of the law, 45% of employers agreed that they were. But 41% disagreed and 11% strongly disagreed, according to EBRI.

As for costs, half of consumers think the law will push up their own out-of-pocket costs. And they may have good reason to believe that: Employers say they are more likely to pass along any cost increases they incur than to pass along cost decreases.

About 41% of employers said they'd be likely to pass along insurance-related hikes, and an additional 23% said they'd be very likely to pass them along.

But if healthcare expenses go down -- as supporters of the law say they will -- employees shouldn’t hold their breaths waiting to benefit, according to the data.

In such a situation, only 30% of companies said they'd be likely to lower premiums and co-pays for their workers, and an additional 10% said they'd be very likely to do so.

-– Walter Hamilton