Gallup: At Least 25% of Uninsured Americans Say They Will Stay That Way

September 30, 2013 - 7:40 AM

Health Overhaul Applying For Coverage

The short form for the new federal Affordable Care Act application. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

(CNSNews.com) - Twenty-five percent of uninsured Americans say they will pay a fine rather than purchase health insurance in 2014, according to a newly released Gallup Poll.

Another 65 percent said they are more likely to purchase health insurance than pay a fine. Under Obamacare, people may sign up for insurance on one of the new exchanges; or they may get coverage through their employer, from Medicaid or Medicare, or by purchasing a plan outside the exchanges.

When Gallup asked uninsured people if they would turn to the new exchanges, 36 percent said no, they do not plan to get health insurance through a state or federal health insurance exchange in 2014. Forty-eight percent of the uninsured said yes, they would buy insurance on one of the exchanges; and 17 percent either hadn't decided or had no opinion.

According to Gallup, the low level of familiarity with the exchanges may explain why less than half of the uninsured said they will get health insurance for 2014 specifically through a state or federal health insurance exchange.

The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to buy health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay a fine. People who don't get insurance through their employer may purchase it on one of the new health care exchanges -- some run by the states, and others run by the federal government.

Overall, Gallup found that 83 percent of Americans are aware that Obamacare requires them to have health insurance or pay a fine beginning January 2014. But this awareness dropped to 68 percent among the uninsured, and it stood at 69 percent among the vital group of 18- to 29-year-olds who are the most likely of any age group to be uninsured.

To be successful, the new health care law needs younger, healthier people to sign up to defray the costs of insuring older, sicker people.

The poll found that relatively few Americans -- 37 percent -- are familiar with the health exchanges. And 62 percent were "not too familiar" or "not at all familiar" with the exchanges, even though enrollment in those exchanges begins on Tuesday.

Familiarity with the exchanges is particularly low among the group of Americans who do not have health insurance. In fact, 72 percent of the uninsured said they are "not too familiar" or "not at all familiar" with the exchanges.

And young adults aged 18 to 29 are also less familiar with the exchanges than those who are older.

Gallup says although less than half of the uninsured say they plan to buy health insurance for 2014 through a federal or state exchange, this percentage may rise in the months ahead as familiarity with the health exchanges increases and demand rises for coverage.

The Gallup poll is based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 17-26, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 5,099 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.