Most uninsured Americans haven't tried to sign up for health care plan

Fear of costs cuts sign-ups, survey finds

Halfway through the open-enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 70 percent of uninsured Americans say they haven’t visited a Web site to sign up. Their biggest reason? They think they can’t afford the insurance.

A bigger effort to help educate people in Georgia will now reach outside the At­lanta area to places such as Augusta and Savannah, officials said.

A survey released Thurs­day by the pro-enrollment group Enroll America found that many uninsured knew of health insurance marketplaces and were aware of problems with the federal healthcare.gov Web site, but there was widespread ignorance of the subsidies and insurance already available.

“They very much know about the glitches and they’re paying attention,” said Tresa Undem, a partner in the firm that did the survey. “But they’re not hearing that information about the tax subsidies and the financial help and what the plans cover.”

Most of the uninsured are not aware of many other key aspects of the law, such as the 81 percent who did not know that the deadline to sign up through the marketplaces is March 31. That fits what navigator Terri Gant, of Medical Associate Plus at Belle Terrace, is seeing in her outreach.

“Quite a few people think that the deadline has already occurred,” she said. “There are people out there who just don’t know that they need to sign up and that there is a penalty attached (to not having coverage).”

Nearly 70 percent said they did not know about the financial assistance available, and 59 percent were unaware of new insurance plans, according to the survey of 910 uninsured, which was conducted Dec. 12-22 and has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

“Because attention has focused on the Web site problems and not on the tax credits available to many consumers, most uninsured adults say that they were not aware that financial assistance is available to help them
purchase insurance,” said Anne Filipic, the president of En­roll America. “And a similar number say affordability is the biggest reason they have not enrolled in the past.”

With those subsidies, nearly six in 10 would be able to find coverage for less than $100 a month, she said.

“There really are these affordable options for them,” Filipic said.

To help educate more people about subsidies and other key parts of the law, Enroll America’s Get Covered America campaign is beefing up its staff and reaching out to more organizations to work with an outreach.

Enroll American Georgia is adding three organizers and is working to get to Augusta “as quickly as possible starting now,” said Alex Dom­bron­ovich, its communications director.

The group is looking for community groups to work with, in particular faith-based, Latino and black organizations and those that are “women-centric,” she said.

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COST ESTIMATE

Are you curious to see what your health insurance costs would be if you enrolled through the health insurance marketplace? Get Covered America has an online calculator that can give you an idea at getcoveredamerica.org/calculator.

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