Poll: Interest Running High in Exchange

survey of Californians released Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California says 75% of uninsured Californians will sign up for coverage by the end of March.

California’s new health benefit exchange will end its first six-month open enrollment period on March 31. If the poll numbers are accurate, that would indicate a huge surge in enrollment is coming this weekend before Covered California’s Monday deadline.

Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, said he doesn’t actually expect three-quarters of all uninsured in California to obtain coverage by Monday.

“What it’s really saying is the desire and the interest are there in the exchange,” Baldassare said. “It’s reflecting the fact that it’s something people have on their wish list.”

So far in 2013, more than three million Californians have signed up for either Medi-Cal expansion coverage or private policies through the exchange. That’s less than half of the roughly 7 million uninsured in California in 2013.

Interest in the exchange has increased since the start of the year, Baldassare said. In January, about 72% of those surveyed said they would sign up for coverage, but that number climbed to 75% in the recent poll.

“If we saw a smaller number that’s something to watch, but it doesn’t look like people have lost interest at all. It’s gone up,” Baldassare said.

According to the survey:

  • 21% of those polled said they will remain uninsured;
  • Latinos showed strong interest in signing up for coverage, with 74% saying they planned to get insurance;
  • About 77% of young uninsured individuals, ages 18 to 44, said they plan to get insurance;
  • Health care reform still is a divisive issue in California, with 47% holding a favorable impression of it and 45% generally unfavorable; and
  • One-third of Californians say the law will be good for them and their families in the long run, while a quarter of those surveyed said it will be bad for them.

Exchange officials have said the March 31 deadline will not be extended, however, anyone who starts the enrollment process by Monday will have until April 15 to finish that application.

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