Few uninsured surfing exchange sites

By BenefitsPro

By Allen Greenberg

The uninsured might be taking a wait-and-see approach. Or perhaps they’re just ignoring the fact that the new health insurance exchanges are up and hobbling.

Those are a couple of the conclusions possible based on a Gallup survey released Friday that found that just 18 percent of uninsured Americans have so far tried to visit an exchange website.

A slightly higher figure, 22 percent, of uninsured Americans who say they plan to get insurance through the exchanges have bothered to visit the federal website, Gallup said.

Gallup in past surveys found that less than half of uninsured Americans (44 percent) who plan to get insurance say they will do so through an exchange, and about one in four say they are more likely to pay a fine instead of getting insurance. Those earlier findings help explain the low percentage of the uninsured who have attempted to access the exchange websites, it said.

On the other hand, the numbers also suggests that something else might be going on.

It may be that many uninsured Americans are waiting to try out the health exchange websites until their problems are fixed, or they may simply be putting off decisions about getting insurance until later.

Three in 10 uninsured Americans are somewhat or very familiar with the exchanges, and that lack of familiarity is similar among those who claim they will most likely buy insurance through the exchanges.

Overall, about 17 percent of the 854 U.S. adults interviewed by phone between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 reported having no health insurance, similar to the percentages found in the first three quarters of this year.

Although the federal exchange website has suffered a number of malfunctions since its launch on Oct. 1, the administration hopes to enroll 7 million Americans through the site as well as state sites by the end of the extended enrollment period in March.

Gallup’s poll has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com