Short Takes On News & Events

Half Of Uninsured Not Planning On Getting Coverage, Poll Finds

By Jordan Rau

March 26th, 2014, 4:55 AM

With less than a week left for customers to apply for insurance through the health care marketplaces, a poll released Wednesday finds that half of the people still without health coverage intend to remain uninsured.

Five million people have signed up for insurance since the marketplaces created by the federal health law opened  in October. The official deadline to sign up without facing a financial penalty is March 31, although federal officials told news organizations Tuesday that consumers who begin the process before then and have had trouble with the technology will an extension of several weeks to finish the process. The Congressional Budget Office estimates by the year’s end, 6 million people will have obtained insurance on the marketplaces.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest poll, conducted in mid-March, found that 50 percent of adults under age 65 who still lack coverage plan to remain without insurance, while 40 percent aim to sign up by the deadline at month’s end. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) The other 10 percent said they did not know what they would do or refused to talk about it.

Of the uninsured, two out of three said they have not tried to get coverage yet. The rest said they attempted to get it through an online marketplace such as healthcare.gov, the state-federal Medicaid program, their employer or a private insurance company.

Only four in 10 of the uninsured knew the March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage, the poll found. A third of the uninsured didn’t know they are subject to a fine if they don’t obtain coverage, absent a few permitted exclusions such as financial hardship. The poll found that direct outreach efforts have had limited success: only 11 percent of uninsured people said they had been contacted about the health law by phone call, email, text message or a home visit.

According to the poll, the majority of the public still holds unfavorable views of the health care law, although that gap has narrowed from the beginning of the year. Forty-six percent of people said they disliked the law, while 38 percent approved. That gap of eight percentage points is half of what it was in November and January. The views of people without insurance also have improved since earlier this year and now essentially mirror the overall public’s opinion. The pollsters noted that it is tricky to compare the views of the uninsured over time since the composition of that group changes as more people get coverage.

A majority of the public, 53 percent, is tired of hearing fights over the health law. Forty-two percent believe the debate should continue.

The poll was conducted among 1,504 adults between March 11 through March 17. The margin of error for questions of the overall public is +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error for questions of just the uninsured population is +/- 9 percentage points.

jrau@kff.org

This post was updated at 10 a.m.

8 Responses to “Half Of Uninsured Not Planning On Getting Coverage, Poll Finds”

  1. Ray says:

    Keep in mind, by current reports that cover 5 of the 6 months of open enrollment, about 500k uninsured (less than 1% of uninsured) have signed up. (Reports say 10-11% of the first 5 million were uninsured, the rest had insurance and are now obtaining it through the exchange).

    This poll indicates that 40% of the approximate 60-65 million uninsured will sign up before the deadline, or 25 million people, give or take. At the current rate, they may hit 1%.

    40% of people say they’ll do something, when less than 1% actually do. Welcome to the disparity between intention and action.

  2. Tabby says:

    Despite what the commenter below suggests, estimates show that 40-60% of those who are currently uninsured with no other prospects are signing up on the exchanged. “Uninsured” is term representing the fluid movement of people in and out of insurance. Many of the insured people have temporary jobs with minimal coverage or have Cobra that will run out–so they too would be uninsured soon enough if ACA did not exist.

    As for the 30 million target to be insured by ACA, that is within 5 years. From the story above, it becomes clear that large change never is completed in a few months.

    People have to become educated as to where to get insurance, what the benefits are, what the penalties are. Also, the states that have refused to expand Medicaid (20 at this point) will soon come around and, within a few years, they will add people to the insured roles. Millions of kids below 26 have already been added to their parents’ insurance because of ACA.

    Finally, those who won’t get subsidies on the public exchange have turned to private exchanges to get insured. Some of the estimates of everyone who are insured when combining Medicaid, private exchanges, public exchanges, and children on parents’ insurance are upwards of 14 million already.

  3. Ralph says:

    Couple of points…just my 2 cents….

    The numbers of those “enrolled” includes all individuals who have selected a plan, but not yet paid. As we all know, a transaction is not complete until payment is made. Funny how they won’t share the total number of those who have actually purchase insurance. The administration should also separate out those who were previously insured, and most likely lost their insurance even though they were told they could keep it, and show us how many previously uninsured are now insured. That was the ultimate goal, right?

    Of those who have enrolled, the proportion of old/sick to young/healthy is unsustainable and implosion is almost certain. Death spiral here we come….

    My prediction of the states who have expanded Medicaid as well as any new states who decide to do so…once federal funds are reduced or eliminated, the state budgets will not be able to continue offering the expanded Medicaid and will be forced to restrict to current standards. They have budget issues now…let’s add more entitlement programs to the budget…hmmm, that makes a lot of sense.

  4. Jack Handey says:

    As one of those uninsured, that’s correct. We’re not getting covered, even with the “Shared Responsibility Payment Exemption”. Broke doesn’t mean stupid.

  5. evan says:

    Half Of Uninsured Not Planning On Getting Coverage, Poll Finds? That’s great! If these uninsured morons think they will never need healthcare treatment or if these uninsured morons think they have the cash to pay for their healthcare out-of-pocket, I say, more power to them! Now, if only we could get Congress to pass laws they stop forcing hospitals to dole out uncompensated care to uninsured these freeloaders. It’s time Congress wakes up and realizes that hospitals are going broke paying for the uninsured bums that walk into their emergency rooms expecting immediate emergency care and walk out not paying a dime for that emergency care. We either need a single-payer government run healthcare system that includes 100 percent universal coverage, or they should stop forcing hospitals to pay for the freeloaders. If the uninsured can’t pay, then they should be denied healthcare!

  6. Daniel Chan says:

    Delaying the individual mandate is the clearest indication yet that the dreaded “death spiral” for insurers is all but guaranteed at this point.

    But fear not citizens!! They wrote an automatic bailout plan for the insurance carriers if said inevitable death spiral occurred so they will be fine.

    Everyone wins! Except for the majority of us. We get hit with higher premiums.

    At this point, people simply don’t like Obamacare. It’s too expensive. And, being named “affordable care act” is a joke, because it’s anything but affordable.

    I tried for hours to find a health insurance plan on the gov site for less then $500/month and COULD NOT DO IT. I’m a 28 year old healthy male. No reason I should be paying that much. I never even go to the doctors. They are counting on the healthy to pay for the old and unhealthy. Nope, not me.. not falling for it. I’d rather just take the $100 penalty.

    Why can’t it be more like auto insurance? Private market.. easy to get quotes. I can go online and get a $25/month auto quote from an independent site like Insurance Panda, but when it comes to health insurance, I use the government’s SCAM website and have to pay out the eyeballs. WOW

    Employer health care should be like auto insurance where your premiums are based on risk. I’m tired of paying the same price as some overweight smoker who is pre-diabetic just because the employer offers medical insurance.

  7. Mike says:

    Death spiral? Huh? Dude, get a life!

  8. afrank63 says:

    Those who want to opt out of Obamacare have several ways of opting out and opting out doesn’t mean having to be totally uninsured. There are alternatives. It is unfortunate so many are either uninformed or misinformed. A friend of mine recently gave me a book that has a lot of good information including how to find different types of affordable healthcare, how to pay directly for healthcare and other good advice The book is called, “The Self-Pay Patient” by Sean Parnell. His website, http://selfpaypatient.com/ , is definitely worthwhile to check out.

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