Survey: Uninsured adults say coverage costs are too high

Although roughly 70 percent of the uninsured population is potentially eligible for subsidies, there are still several barriers preventing them from obtaining insurance, according to a new survey from the Urban Institute.

About 60 percent of uninsured adults eligible for financial assistance said they don't have insurance because the costs of buying a health plan are too high.

They also said they don't know where to find information about coverage or didn't know assistance was available. Adele Shartzer, research associate and lead author of the survey, said improved in-person assistance, decision supports and easier-to-use enrollment technology could help those individuals. She added that faster application processing and policies to smooth transitions between different types of plans could minimize gaps in coverage.

And states' decisions not to expand Medicaid are preventing almost 23 percent of uninsured adults from enrolling in a health plan. That's because these individuals falls in a coverage gap with their family income not low enough to make them eligible for subsidies.

Medicaid expansion continues to be a hot-button political issue in the wake of the King v. Burwell ruling, with the Obama administration hoping to convince more states to expand the program even as some worry enrollment surges may jeopardize state budgets, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.  

"Improved outreach to these uninsured to alert them to potential assistance could address awareness gaps, but the resources to support outreach and education efforts are waning," Shartzer wrote.

But for other uninsured adults, lack of awareness isn't the problem. More than 25 percent of the uninsured who are eligible for subsidies said they were aware of subsidies and had actually looked for information about plans sold on the health insurance exchanges--yet they still cite financial reasons as to why they remain uninsured.

"This finding could also reveal that current Marketplace subsidies for low- and moderate-income individuals in fact may not be adequate to encourage participation," Shartzer said.

To learn more:
- here's the Urban Institute survey