‘Modest improvement’ in uninsured exchange useNews added by Benefits Pro on January 31, 2014

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By Kathryn Mayer

More of the uninsured population plan to buy their health insurance through an exchange, according to a new Gallup poll, out Thursday.

Fifty-six percent of uninsured Americans who plan to buy health insurance say they will do so through a public exchange, up from 50 percent in December and 45 percent in October.

The reason for the increase, Gallup researchers said, might be because of improvements made to the federal exchange website after problems had plagued the site for months. “Another factor may be that previously uninsured Americans who now have health insurance for 2014 had other options, such as insurance through an employer or signing up on a spouse’s or parent’s plan,” Gallup reported. “Those options may not be as available to those who remain uninsured.”

Fifty-three percent of all uninsured Americans now say they plan to get insurance, while 38 percent say they will likely instead pay the tax penalty for not having insurance.

The percentage planning to get insurance is down from December’s number, 60 percent. That decline may be attributed to a shrinking uninsured pool as people enroll in new insurance, Gallup said.

Likewise, fewer uninsured people this month, 72 percent, said they were aware of PPACA’s requirement to sign up. That’s compared to 80 percent who were aware in December.

Though the new Gallup numbers are slightly better news for the administration, the findings also continue to show that exchange visits, as well as familiarity with the law, are still lagging. Just 23 percent of the uninsured say they’ve visited, or have attempted to visit, a federal or state exchange website.

And exchange website visits are no more common, just 21 percent, among uninsured Americans who plan to get insurance. Thirty-one percent of uninsured Americans say they are “very” or “somewhat familiar” with the exchanges.

Gallup said the numbers are only “modest improvements” and “it may get harder to convince the remaining uninsured population to sign up for health insurance in the coming months.”

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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