Survey: Subsidy unawareness deters reform enrollment

The biggest barrier to enrollment in insurance plans available under the Affordable Care Act isn't a glitchy website but rather a lack of public knowledge about subsidies, according to results of a December Enroll America survey.

Technical problems with HealthCare.gov had minimal effect on the uninsured, and media focus on them stole attention from financial aid availability, the survey of 910 uninsured Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 found.

While 67 percent of the respondents knew about HealthCare.gov, seven in 10 still didn't know how the ACA makes coverage more affordable. Majorities in almost every demographic group lacked knowledge of subsidies, newly-available plans and the open enrollment deadline.

Respondents with state-based exchanges were more apt to know about new plans than those with a federally-run marketplace, corroborating reports that state buy-in contributes heavily to the achievement of ACA enrollment objectives. Most respondents hadn't visited online marketplaces because they're convinced health insurance is a luxury they can't afford; yet eight in 10 respondents said they'd likely enroll if they could afford it.

"If you know from experience that health insurance is not affordable and you don't know that the law has changed for you, you're just a little stuck," Tresa Undem, parter at PerryUndem, the public opinion research firm that conducted the phone survey, told McClatchyDC.

Overall, "costs are the main reason uninsured adults lack coverage now," the study concluded. "In the absence of information about subsidies, many are not looking into ACA options. Greater awareness and education about financial help and addressing cost concerns may be effective ways to boost enrollment."

Accordingly, Enroll America--a coalition working on behalf of the ACA--hired 58 new organizers to raise awareness of financial help in 11 states with high concentrations of uninsured residents, McClatchyDC reported.

For more:
- read the survey (.pdf)
- see the McClatchyDC article

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