Despite the Obama administration’s final push for Americans to sign up for health plans on the state and federal Obamacare exchanges, more than a third of the uninsured intend to stay that way, according to a new survey.
The poll, commissioned by BankRate.com, found that 35% of uninsured Americans don’t plan on buying health insurance. The reason most frequently cited is the cost of coverage, though some are refusing to buy insurance because they oppose Obamacare or they’re health and don’t believe they need a health plan.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of the uninsured do plan on purchasing coverage, though time is quickly running out for them to do so.
The poll also found that 46% of uninsured Americans are unaware of the March 31 deadline to purchase health insurance, after which they could be hit with a tax penalty, assuming they don’t claim the “hardship exemption” loophole that the administration recently carved out.
What’s more, a staggering 70% of the uninsured aren’t aware of the subsidies available for health insurance coverage purchased through the exchanges. This, despite efforts by the administration to highlight the availability of the subsidies.
“This is a staggeringly high percentage,” Doug Whiteman, an insurance analyst at BankRate.com, told CBS News. “The government has spent over half a billion dollars promoting the Affordable Care Act, and more than two-thirds of uninsured Americans still don’t know about the subsidies.”
BankRate.com spoke with one researcher who believes that the administration placed too much emphasis on the subsidies and not enough on the tax that Americans could be forced to pay if they don’t purchased coverage by March 31.
“They found in Massachusetts, with ‘RomneyCare,’ that the individual mandate penalty absolutely motivated a lot of people to purchase insurance,” Sabrina Colette, a research professor at Georgetown University, told BankRate.com. “The Obama administration understandably tried to emphasize the positive, but people need to understand that the mandate is not insignificant — they could be hit with a big tax bill if they don’t buy coverage.”
President Obama emphasized the individual mandate tax in a recent interview, though the “hardship” loophole would provide them with a convenient way to avoid having to pay the penalty, at least for the next two years.
Another researcher said that the administration has placed too much emphasis on getting young people to enroll and should have instead focused on encouraging poor families to sign-up for health insurance.
“Low-income, young families may have been overlooked,” said Deborah Chollet, a health insurance research at the Mathematica Policy Research. “They’re probably not spending a lot of time watching television, they never read a newspaper, and if they listen to radio, it’s probably music in the car.”
The administration has ramped up its effort to encourage young people — those between the ages of 18 and 34 — to sign-up for health insurance coverage. Through February, however, this age bracket made up just 25% of those who selected plans on the exchanges, far below the 38% to 40% the originally administration said it needed for the risk pools to be sustainable.