Half of uninsured plan to go without coverage past deadline

As the March 31 deadline to enroll in health insurance approaches, half of people uninsured intend to remain uninsured, according to a poll released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll of more than 1,500 adults found 50 percent of those under the age of 65 who are currently uninsured plan to remain without insurance, while 40 percent aim to sign up before the impending deadline. The other 10 percent said they were not sure what they will do regarding healthcare enrollment.

Only four in 10 of the uninsured knew of the deadline to sign up for coverage, while a third of the uninsured did not realize they must pay a financial penalty if they miss the deadline.

According to the poll, using direct outreach to get people to enroll had little effect: Only 11 percent of uninsured people said they had been contacted about healthcare law by phone, email, text message or a home visit.

The new healthcare law continues to receive mixed reviews, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Forty-six percent of people said they disliked the law, while 38 percent said they approved. The eight percent gap is half of what it was in November and January. Back in February, the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and the Urban Institute found 10 percent of all previously uninsured people signed up for coverage, which was up from 3 percent in January, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

A majority of the public--53 percent--is tired of hearing about the woes of healthcare law, while 42 percent believe the debates and conversation should continue.

A study released on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found just more than half of individuals polled knew about the exchanges to buy coverage through HealthCare.gov, and less than half knew there might be subsidies available to help them afford coverage, reported The Atlantic.

"The contentious debate has seeped into the public's mind more than the details," Mollyann Brodie, a pollster for the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Atlantic. "There's a massive public education challenge to help them understand what the law means and doesn't mean."

Brodie also told The Atlantic she partly blames the media for the public's lack of understanding about healthcare law. Reporters, in her opinion, have been covering the controversy and political fallout of the law far more closely than its benefits and requirements.

For more:
- here's the Kaiser Health News article
- here's the full report
- read the Atlantic article

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