Survey: Why millions did not sign up for health insurance

A field organizer with Enroll America talks about health insurance options.
A field organizer with Enroll America talks about health insurance options.
Lynne Sladky/AP

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

A new national survey suggests that uninsured Americans who did not sign up for health coverage during the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period could not find a plan that suited them, did not know enough about the federal law, or just procrastinated too long.

Enroll America polled 671 people across the country who enrolled in a health plan during the open enrollment period that ended in April. It also surveyed 853 uninsured people.  Of the uninsured, roughly six in ten said they wanted health insurance, and about one-third said they had tried to get it. 

But something happened to those who went looking for coverage: 43 percent of the respondents said they could not find an option that fit them. Nearly one in five said they meant to sign up, but never got around to it for one reason or another.

RELATED: What Obamacare? Some Californians choosing to stay uninsured

Enroll America believes its survey holds lessons for how to enroll the remaining uninsured when open enrollment begins again in November. 

The group said one takeaway is that people who knew more about the Affordable Care Act were more likely to sign up.

For example, more than half of the newly enrolled people surveyed knew the law provides financial help and tax subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans; only one in four of the uninsured knew that. That information might have swayed some people, as four out of ten people remained uninsured because they did not think the costs were worth it.

QUIZ: Think you know Obamacare? Take our quiz to find out

"The survey suggests that filling that knowledge gap will be critical in helping to enroll those who remain uninsured," said Enroll America President Ann Filipic, who added, "that need is particularly acute for hard-to-reach populations, such as Latinos and young people."

The survey found that four out of ten of the uninsured said they would definitely or probably get insurance for next year. About one in seven said they would probably or definitely not buy it, even though that might lead to a tax penalty.

The survey was conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment.