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Public says news coverage of health care law shortchanges practical information

As the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act start kicking in this week with the rollout of new insurance exchanges where consumers can shop for coverage, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted in mid-September finds that nearly two-thirds of the public – and almost three-quarters of the uninsured – say they don’t know the exchanges open on Oct. 1.

Credit: Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, Sept. 12-18
Credit: Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, Sept. 12-18

The survey finds that Americans have not found the news media to be a big help in getting information about its provisions. A majority (56%) say the news media’s coverage has been “mostly about politics and controversy” while only 6% say it has been mostly about how the law will affect people. A third say the coverage has been a balance of the two.

More than half (53%) of those surveyed say there is not a news media source that they trust for information about the health law; 44% said there were news outlets they trusted. Of those who said they trust one or multiple news sources, 19% cited cable TV, with 10% naming Fox News and 5%  naming CNN. Broadcast TV outlets and newspapers ranked second at 7% each.

In the 30 days prior to the time the survey was conducted, 43% said they saw ads or commercials having to do with the health care law. Of those, 31% saw ads opposed to the law, 24% saw ads in support of it and 17% saw ads that provided information about how to get coverage.