70% of consumers with pre-existing conditions unsure about insurance

Almost 70 percent of uninsured consumers with a pre-existing condition haven't yet decided whether they will buy coverage when the health insurance exchanges open in October, according to a survey from InsuranceQuotes.com, a Web-based insurance quote service.

For the first time, the reform law prohibits insurers from discriminating against consumers with pre-existing conditions, preventing them from denying them coverage or charging them much higher rates, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

But will this consumer group actually take advantage of their newfound coverage options? The survey of about 3,000 adults shows that 68 percent aren't sure yet, while 57 percent of the uninsured consumers without any pre-exiting conditions also can't decide whether they will buy health coverage.

InsuranceQuotes.com said 37 percent of its survey population had a pre-existing condition, ranging from acne to high blood pressure to cancer. And about 16 percent of those survey participants were also uninsured.

The high rate of uncertainty could be due to a lack of information. Sally McCarty, a healthcare reform expert with the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute told InsuranceQuotes.com that federal and state governments plus community organizations will launch education campaigns to explain the workings of the exchanges. "I just don't think the big push to get the word out has started yet," she said.

Plus, consumers with pre-existing conditions will have a lot of information to sort through come October, if they choose to shop on the exchanges. "They will have a lot of choices to make," says John Rother, president and CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group, National Coalition on Health Care.

To learn more:
- here's the InsuranceQuotes.com survey