The main goal of the Affordable Care Act was to provide greater access to health care by making it cheaper, but one third of Americans without insurance plan to stay that way, according to a new survey.
The survey by Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE) finds the price point for coverage on the state and federal exchanges isn’t low enough to attract this group to sign up, despite the law’s mandate. The report shows 34% of currently-uninsured Americans plan to stay uninsured. The ACA requires every American to obtain health insurance by the end of open enrollment period on March 31 or face a penalty. Despite the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote the law and exchanges, about half of the survey’s respondents (48%) were not aware that open enrollment period ends in two weeks.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, and is taken each month as Bankrate.com’s Health Insurance Pulse.
The most common reasoning for people to remain uninsured was coverage being too expensive, according to 41% of respondents. The Department of Health and Human Services says insurance on average would cost $328 per month for a mid-tier silver plan on the federal exchange, without any subsidies to lower the price. Subsidies are available for those making up to 400% of the federal poverty level—about $45,000 for an individual and $94,000 for a family of four.
But price isn’t the only factor, 17% of those who plan to remain uninsured say they will do so because they oppose the law, and 13% saying they won’t get coverage because they are healthy and don’t need it.
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Bankrate insurance analyst Doug Whiteman says the results were a surprise as the uninsured were a main target of the law.
“The administration’s message is being lost,” Whiteman says. “The young ‘invincibles’ have been a target for this message, but it may be lost on older and lower-income Americans who are working two jobs, are busy shuttling their kids around, and who don’t read much or watch television.”
He adds that many respondents were also unaware of the subsidies.
Among 18 to 29 year olds, Bankrate finds 60% say they will sign up for insurance, and 28% say they will not enroll. Of those who won’t be signing up, 31% say they plan to remain uninsured because they are healthy and don’t need coverage.
“Time is certainly running out,” Whiteman says. “The president is making speeches; he appeared in last week’s comedy video [on Funny or Die’s ‘Between Two Ferns’] that went viral. But will that really hit a large segment of the intended audience? Lower income and older folks may be missing out on the message, and are more difficult to reach.”
Gallup also released a poll Monday which found 66% of Americans are satisfied with the way the health-care system is working for them today. This includes one-third of those who don’t currently have insurance.
Under the ACA every individual in the country has to have insurance by the end of open enrollment period, or they will face a fine of $95 a year, or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply. HHS reports that since open enrollment period kicked off on Oct. 1, 4.2 million Americans have signed up for coverage, with 25% being between the ages of 18 and 34, the younger demographic needed to offset the costs of covering older and less healthy people.
The current enrollment stats are just over 75% of the revised enrollment goals set by the Obama Administration which is to have 6 million enrolled in year one of the ACA.