Majority of Uninsured Plan to Get Insurance

Fifty-five percent of uninsured Americans would buy insurance rather than pay a fine, according to a Gallup poll in February. That’s similar to January’s results, but down from as high as 63% last Fall. As some previously uninsured Americans move into the insured pool, the remaining uninsured have shown the most reluctance to get insurance. This helps explain why the percentage of uninsured Americans who say they intend to buy insurance has dropped in the most recent months.

At the same time, American attitudes toward the ACA remain negative, which may suggest that some uninsured Americans’ reluctance to get insurance reflects their dislike of the ACA and the law’s requirements. Other uninsured Americans may simply have become more hardened over time in their negative attitudes toward the prospect of getting insurance.

Still, the possibility that more than half of Americans who remain uninsured say they will purchase health insurance offers some positive news for supporters of Obamacare. It also suggests that the number of uninsured Americans may continue to decline as the March 31 deadline approaches, after which they will have to pay a fine if they don’t have insurance.

More than half of the uninsured who plan to get insurance say they will get it from an exchange, a percentage that has been higher this year than in the last three months of 2013. Still, the news on the exchange front is not all positive. Uninsured Americans who have visited an exchange are about twice as likely to rate their experience negatively as positively, similar to their ratings last fall. Some people who had positive experiences with the exchanges in past months likely got insurance, and therefore are no longer included in the uninsured pool in Gallup’s ongoing tracking. Still, the fact that only a third of the uninsured in February who visited the exchanges had a positive experience suggests that significant problems remain despite the Obama administration’s massive effort to fix issues with the federal exchange website.

The majority of those who plan to get insurance say they will do it through a state or federal health insurance exchange, although to date, the uninsured evaluate the experiences they have had with the exchanges quite negatively. Exchange activity may pick up in the coming weeks as the government’s March 31 deadline for having insurance approaches. Once that deadline passes, it may be clearer how much progress the Obama administration’s efforts to expand health insurance have made. For more information visit www.gallup.com.

Last Updated 04/14/2021

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