Retirees: Less ACA Rhetoric, Please

November 5, 2013 (  Retirees want more unbiased information—and less political grandstanding—on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a survey shows.

In fact, nearly nine in 10 retirees (88%) who responded to the Center for a Secure Retirement’s recent survey, “Middle-Income Retirees Weigh In on the Affordable Care Act,” said they want to hear less political rhetoric regarding the ACA. A similar percentage (84%) wants more “unbiased information” to understand how the Act’s ongoing implementation may affect them.

The survey found the most popular features of the ACA include the following: It eliminates pre-existing condition exclusions for insurance policies (68%); offers a free Medicare annual wellness visit (60%); and includes initiatives to make Medicare more efficient (60%).

Half of all retirees (52%), on the other hand, say the law’s worst aspect is the requirement forcing individuals to own health insurance or face a penalty. Other negative aspects of the law for current retirees include expanding Medicaid coverage (27%) and a requirement that certain employers pay subsidies when not offering health care (26%).

Looking at the ACA as a whole, 49% of retirees reported not feeling confident in understanding how the Act affects them personally. Slightly less than one-quarter (23%) of retired respondents said they are confident or very confident in that respect.

One potentially troubling figure described in the survey shows a more pronounced lack of confidence among women in understanding the ACA. Three times as many women reported they are not confident in understanding the ACA compared to those that are confident, clocking in at 56% and 17%, respectively. 

Among the least understood individual provisions of the ACA are two that may significantly impact retirees. One in six retirees are “not familiar” with the fact the ACA caps health insurance premiums for older people relative to rates for younger people (18%). Also relatively unknown is that the ACA will close the so-called Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole (18%).

One in four (27%) middle-income retirees ages 55 to 64 who do not receive any type of government insurance coverage report either having purchased their own private health insurance policy (15%) or being uninsured (12%).

In fact, a greater total percentage of retirees ages 55 to 64 find themselves to be potential beneficiaries of state health insurance exchanges (27%) than the percentage of the working population (23%).

Additional survey findings and methodology details are available here.