Uninsured are Uncertain, Uninformed About Health Coverage

Many consumers without health insurance don’t have immediate plans to buy it when federally subsidized plans become available this fall via health insurance exchanges, according to a new survey.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the telephone survey in May for online broker InsuranceQuotes.com, polling 1,153 adult consumers about their attitudes and knowledge of the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, individuals must purchase health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or face financial penalties.

Survey respondents included 286 reporting they were uninsured, with 64 percent of unsure if they will purchase insurance before January. Sixty-one percent of the uninsured said they haven’t bought insurance because they can’t afford it.

But many respondents, insured or not, aren’t aware of subsidies to significantly lower premium costs. Fifty-eight percent of respondents were not sure if they will qualify for subsidized coverage. Those with household income under $30,000 will receive the most help to buy coverage, yet 68 percent percent of these respondents were not aware they were eligible for subsidized coverage. Combined with skepticism that the financial penalty will be enforced, many individuals are taking a wait-and-see attitude on getting insurance, says Amy Bach, executive director of consumer advocacy group United Policyholders. Subsidies are available on a sliding scale for households with income up to $94,200 for a family of four in 2013.

Many respondents also were skeptical that the reform law will make much of an improvement in the nation’s health care system. Sixty-one percent of respondents worry the reform law will result in health care costs increasing, while 26 percent expect a decrease. Less than half expect the reform law to improve the nation’s health status. More information is available here.

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