Bad roll-out of healthcare website got uninsured's attention

Nov. 6, 2013 at 3:49 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A U.S. survey finds the number of uninsured or under-insured adults aware of the website is up a third.

A Commonwealth Fund survey, conducted Oct. 9-27, tracked U.S. adults who are uninsured, who buy healthcare insurance themselves because their employer does not provide insurance or who have already purchased health insurance from the Affordable Care Act's Marketplace websites.

Sixty percent say they were aware of the marketplaces -- 36 states chose to not create a Marketplace. Those in the 36 states use the federal Marketplace while the rest of the states have their own Marketplace website -- and 53 percent said they were aware that financial help may be available to them.

The level of awareness is an increase of about a third who were found to be aware of the marketplaces in a Commonwealth Fund survey conducted earlier this year.

Seventeen percent of U.S. adults who are potentially eligible for coverage have visited new health insurance marketplaces to buy coverage, via mail, Internet, phone or in person.

One-in-5 adults who visited the health insurance Marketplaces said they enrolled in a health plan. Forty-eight percent who did not enroll said they were not sure they could afford a health insurance plan, 46 percent said they were still deciding on a plan and 37 percent said they had technical difficulties with the website

Fifty-eight percent of those who are potentially eligible for coverage but who have not yet enrolled said they were likely to try to enroll or find out about financial help by March 31, 2014, the end of the open enrollment period for 2014.

"While it is disappointing that so many people have had difficulty accessing the online marketplace, the survey results show that awareness of the marketplaces has grown this fall, and those who initially struggled appear determined to try again," lead survey researcher Sara Collins, vice president for healthcare coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, said in a statement.

The survey found 21 percent of marketplace visitors were young adults ages 19-29, 52 percent were ages 30-49. In addition, the website visitors were in good health, with 73 percent describing their health as excellent, very good or good, and only 25 percent in fair or poor health.

The survey involved 2,661 adults ages 19-64 and of these respondents, 682 reported that they were uninsured or they had purchased health insurance through the individual market.

This sample of 682 adults potentially eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act was administered by the Commonwealth Fund Affordable Care Act Tracking Survey.

The survey, conducted in English and in Spanish, has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

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