Polls: Uninsured Exchange Enrollment Rises Despite Low Awareness
Although a significant portion of uninsured U.S. residents still are unaware of the health insurance exchanges, the overall number of uninsured people who have enrolled in coverage through the exchanges is increasing, according to a pair of surveys released Thursday, the Washington Post reports (Goldstein, Washington Post, 3/6).
For the first survey, the Urban Institute polled about 8,000 U.S. residents as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's December 2013 Health Reform Monitoring Survey (Ritger, National Journal, 3/6). For the purposes of the study, the researchers included as uninsured respondents any uninsured individuals who were eligible for private plans through the exchanges or who were eligible for Medicaid (Washington Post, 3/6).
The researchers found that about 23% of uninsured U.S. residents said they were not aware of the health insurance exchanges and that about 27% of adults in low-income families said the same. Overall, the study found that low-income and uninsured adults were less likely to have heard about the exchanges than their respective peers.
However, the researchers also found that the majority of uninsured respondents who said they were aware of the exchanges were looking or intended to look at their health care options. Specifically, the study found that about 19% of uninsured respondents said they have looked at plans, while another 33% said they planned to shop for coverage. Meanwhile, about six in 10 individuals who had looked for coverage said they were actively trying to enroll or determining whether they were eligible for subsidized coverage.
According to the study, low-income and uninsured U.S. residents who are most likely to benefit from exchange plans or from the tax subsidies were more likely than their respective peer groups to have shopped or intended to shop for coverage.
Uninsured Enrollment Increasing
For the second poll, researchers from the consulting firm McKinsey surveyed 2,096 people considered eligible for the federal exchanges about their insurance status (Weaver/Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal, 3/6). In that study, researchers considered individuals uninsured if they qualified for private plans through the insurance exchanges, but not if they were uninsured and eligible for Medicaid coverage (Washington Post, 3/6).
The study found that about 395 respondents signed up for coverage via the exchange in February, about 27% of whom previously were uninsured. The figure represents an increase from January, when another McKinsey survey found that about 11% of people who signed up for coverage previously were uninsured (Wall Street Journal, 3/6).
Similarly, the survey found that about 75% of respondents who had selected a plan also had paid their premiums, up from the prior McKinsey survey that found about 48% of uninsured people who signed up for coverage also had paid their initial premiums (Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/6).
In addition, the February survey found that about 456 respondents said they had shopped for coverage but had not yet purchased plans, with about 50% of those respondents citing cost as the reason they did not enroll. According to the survey, about 82% of the 228 respondents who cited cost as the reason they did not enroll are eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for such coverage. However, the survey found that about 65% did not know that they qualified for such assistance or said they were unaware about the subsidies' value to them (Wall Street Journal, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.