Uninsured still uninformed, unprepared for individual mandate

Uninsured consumers, who will be most affected by the healthcare reform law, are still not informed or prepared for the law's individual mandate requiring them to obtain insurance by next year, according to a new survey from the Transamerica Center for Health Studies (TCHS).

Questioning about 1,000 consumers in November, TCHS found 31 percent of uninsured consumers haven't even heard of health insurance exchanges. What's more, only 7 percent of the uninsured population feels "very" prepared for the reform law and only 35 percent feel at least "somewhat" prepared.

And 61 percent of the uninsured have done "nothing" in the past 12 months to prepare for the reform law while 55 percent say they're "not sure" what they will do in response to the individual mandate.

"With the deadline to purchase coverage approaching, the great unknown is what the uninsured will do," TCHS Executive Director Hector De La Torre said today in a statement accompanying the survey.

In good news, the TCHS survey determined the general population is more informed and prepared for the reform law now than in July, with 60 percent of respondents saying they're informed and 72 percent said they're prepared, compared to 48 percent and 63 percent, respectively. But that hasn't resulted in any action--59 percent of respondents haven't done anything to prepare for the reform law in the last 12 months.

"More Americans are informed and prepared for the March 31, 2014, mandatory health coverage date, but a significant number have yet to actually sign up for health insurance in the Exchanges or in the traditional insurance market," De La Torre said. "The uninsured continue to be the least active, which could be because they feel the least prepared and also are the least satisfied with the health care system."

The findings echo a November poll from Gallup that found more uninsured consumers are aware of the healthcare reform law's individual mandate, but they still don't know about the health insurance exchange, which is where they would most likely buy a health plan, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the TCHS survey and announcement (.pdfs)