Americans are undeterred by computer glitches at HealthCare.gov, and a majority want to sign up for health insurance but don’t know about government subsidies that could help them pay for it, according to a survey released Thursday.
The survey commissioned by Enroll America, a national nonprofit health care enrollment coalition, found more than eight in 10 uninsured Americans would sign up for an affordable health insurance plan if one is available.
Of 910 uninsured people surveyed online Dec. 12-22, seven in 10 had not yet visited their online marketplace. About half of those who visited experienced glitches, but 92 percent either went back to try again or plan to in the future. Bethesda, Md.-based PerryUndem surveyed adults ages 18-64; the margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
“Uninsured Americans understand the value of insurance, they are undeterred by the website problems they’ve heard about,” Enroll America President Anne Filipic said Thursday. “The problems of the website don’t seem to have permanently damaged the enrollment effort. Almost all of them went back to try again or plan to in the future.”
In response to the results, Enroll America announced a “staffing surge” that includes hiring 58 addition state organizers, including five in Michigan. They say the additional staffers will allow them to train thousands more volunteers, including in Michigan where there are already 1,500 going door-to-door, manning phone banks and staffing enrollment events. The group has raised $37 million nationwide through philanthropy from a variety of funders, mostly health care providers and insurers.
The survey found 72 percent of uninsured Americans aren’t aware there are tax subsidies available to help pay for insurance. Filipic said media coverage of the computer glitches that plagued the HealthCare.gov website last fall diverted the public’s attention from learning about other aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the availability of government subsidies and the variety of new insurance options.
“Most consumers would be eager to enroll if they knew about the financial help available to them,” Filipic said. “The biggest obstacle to further enrollment is the lack of awareness. Most consumers would be eager to enroll if they knew about the financial help available to them.”
The survey found seven in 10 uninsured adults have not yet visited their online marketplace, and the most common reason given was “I can’t afford health insurance.”
“It’s prior belief and lack of knowledge...it’s not actual cost,” said Tresa Undem, a partner with the PerryUndem research firm. “The mentality is kind of like ‘If I can’t afford shoes I don’t go shoe shopping.’ In absence of that, people are not going online.”