Many U.S. uninsured don't know they qualify for insurance

Jan. 25, 2014 at 1:16 AM
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PRINCETON, N.J., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A survey indicates many uninsured U.S. adults will likely remain uninsured this year because they don't know they qualify for a subsidy, or Medicaid.

The survey, prepared by researchers at the Urban Institute, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found 40 percent of uninsured U.S. adults said they expect they will get insurance this year.

In addition, 31 percent of uninsured adults eligible for Medicaid said they didn't think they were eligible. Furthermore, 35 percent of uninsured adults who qualify for marketplace insurance subsidies said they didn't think they were eligible to get subsidized private health insurance,

If efforts were made to raise awareness of Medicaid and subsidy eligibility among those who qualify, the number of uninsured adults who gain coverage by the end of open enrollment March 31, could significantly increase, the Urban Institute said.

In addition, only about 4-in-10 survey respondents who anticipated staying uninsured said they thought they would have to pay a penalty due to the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. The authors said this signals a need for more awareness about the individual mandate to help people avoid paying the penalty.

"The survey respondents' relative lack of knowledge about the availability of free or subsidized health insurance illustrates the need for increased outreach," Katherine Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in a statement.

"People should know that help is available so they can get high-quality, affordable healthcare."

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