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Many uninsured Americans unaware of Obamacare mandate, poll shows

One year after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act's mandate that all Americans acquire health insurance, a significant chunk of uninsured Americans are unaware of that looming requirement, a new poll shows.

Forty-three percent of uninsured Americans told Gallup, in a survey conducted June 20-24, that they had not been aware of the "individual mandate" before surveyed on it. Americans overall were more likely to know about the rule -- 81 percent said they were aware of it.

Gallup surveyed a random sample of 2,048 adults across the U.S. The poll has a three-point margin of error.

The survey illustrates the challenge facing federal and state governments over the next three months, as they attempt to educate uninsured Americans about the requirement -- and the new programs that will be in place to help them get insurance. Starting in January 2014, Americans without health insurance should be able to purchase private plans on an "exchange," one of the state-based online marketplaces currently under development. Every state is expected to have its own exchange ready for open enrollment by October, though several states have opted to let the federal government run their programs.

The success of the exchanges depends largely on just getting the uninsured -- especially the young and healthy -- to enroll, so officials are investing heavily in programs to teach people about the exchanges. For instance, California's exchange, called Covered California, is awarding $37 million in grants to organizations expected to help the state conduct outeach to communities of uninsured Californians.

Educating the uninsured about the exchanges is not the only challenge facing the government as the open enrollment period approaches. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office this month issued a report noting that government officials have missed some interim deadlines in setting up the exchanges.

"Much progress has been made, but much remains to be accomplished within a relatively short amount of time," the report said. "And while the missed interim deadlines may not affect implementation, additional missed deadlines closer to the start of enrollment could do so."

The Health and Human Services Department said in response to the report that it's confident the exchanges will be up and running on time.

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