A Field Poll released today shows that only 17% of Californians are aware of the state's nascent Health Benefit Exchange but a a high percentage of Californians like the basic tenets of health care reform and the exchange, according to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
"It's definitely low, and that is somewhat to be expected, given that they haven't done any outreach or marketing yet," DiCamillo said. "What will really be interesting is how much we see that change over time, whether there is greater awareness among certain subgroups later, as the exchange gets closer to actual operation."
In general, DiCamillo said, opinions about the exchange and reform mirror political affiliation. Favorable opinions about health care reform tend to run higher in California.
DiCamillo said people who say they're very interested in the exchange often have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act.
That is good news for health reform in the state, he said.
"What that says is that the California exchange is starting out in a much more favorable position than other states," DiCamillo said.
The poll surveyed 1,579 registered voters in California. A majority of those polled said that the Affordable Care Act is an important first step toward reforming health care, but that more needed to be done, DiCamillo said. Most Californians -- 51% -- felt Congress should halt any efforts to repeal the law, the poll found.
DiCamillo said about one-quarter of those surveyed were potential users of the exchange -- uninsured, Medi-Cal beneficiaries or insured in the individual market. Those people were asked if they would be interested in shopping for insurance coverage through the exchange in 2014, DiCamillo said, and three of four said yes.
"That's a sizable segment," DiCamillo said. "And we're excluding pretty much the Medicare population and it doesn't even factor in those people who might be more interested when you add in the possibility of getting subsidies. You would assume, for some segment of this population, that would stimulate even more interest in the exchange."