In talking with both those who enrolled and those who were still uninsured, the difference was often education, said Mike Perry of PerryUndem, who conducted the online survey released by Enroll America.
“Those who enrolled just knew more than those who did not,” he said. “On some key issues that knowledge gap was quite large.”
For instance, 56 percent of those who enrolled knew there were subsidies to help low and moderate income people pay for coverage while 26 percent of those who didn’t enroll knew that. Of those who did not try to enroll, 48 percent said they believed they couldn’t afford coverage and only 21 percent of that group knew about the subsidies. A significant number of the uninsured – 15 percent – did not know they could sign up for health insurance through the health law and insurance marketplaces.
The survey also pointed to a number of difficulties people had with the process. Of those who did not enroll, 43 percent tried but could not find anything that fit and another 18 percent said circumstances interfered with enrolling.
“Either they couldn’t find anything or they meant to enroll but life got in the way,” Perry said.
Even those who were successfully enrolled had to work at it, the survey found. About 60 percent said they spent more than a week to get enrolled and more than half said they visited the marketplace Web site more than three times, Perry said.
Almost half of the uninsured – 42 percent – said they definitely or probably would enroll during the next open enrollment period, and another 42 percent said they were unsure. Of those who were not sure, 43 percent did not know details about the individual mandate, which requires insurance coverage or mandates a fine that gets bigger with each subsequent year the person is uninsured.
“This tells us that we really need to double down on our efforts to continue to educate the uninsured about the law and its benefits,” said Anne Filipic, the president of Enroll America, a nonprofit group formed to help boost enrollment in key states like Georgia and Florida.
While there have been more than 12.8 million that have gained coverage through the health insurance marketplaces, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Programs, “this survey really speaks to the fact that our work is far from over,” she said. “We are not sitting back on our heels in any way.”