Defiant Americans: A Third of Uninsured Refuse to Buy Obamacare
Monday, 17 Mar 2014 06:13 PM
By Greg Richter
A third of Americans currently uninsured still have no intention of buying health coverage even though they are required to do so by the Affordable Care Act, according to Bankrate's latest Health Insurance Pulse survey.
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Thirty-four percent contacted by telephone said they still have no intention of buying insurance. Most, 41 percent, cited cost as their reason, while 17 percent said they oppose Obamacare and 13 percent said they are healthy and don't need insurance.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed said they do plan to purchase health coverage.
"We did all this discombobulating for nothing, because the uninsured are not signing up," Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto said on Monday.
"It's hard to generalize, but for some of these folks, it's a case of, 'I'm in pretty good health, I don't think about these things, I know I can't afford it now,'" Michael Morrisey, professor of health economics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health told Bankrate. "I think it's just rolling past them, and they're not giving it a whole lot of attention."
The debate swirled even as the administration announced that more than 5 million had now enrolled in private health insurance under Obamacare since open enrollment began on Oct. 1.
The tally is an increase of at least 800,000 enrollees since March 1, with volume rising as the six-month enrollment period approaches its deadline on March 31. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that enrollment could total 6 million, but private estimates have suggested a lower turnout.
In the Bankrate survey, only 30 percent were aware of tax credits designed to offset costs, but those making less than $30,000 a year — who are more likely to benefit from them — were in the group most likely to know about the credits.
It is mostly men who won't buy insurance over opposition to Obamacare. Twenty-two percent of men cited that as the reason as opposed to 8 percent of women.
Most opponents of the Affordable Care Act are Republican, so it's not surprising that half of uninsured Republicans cited opposition to Obamacare as their reason to remain uninsured. Only 5 percent of those who identify as Democrats cited opposition to the ACA as their reason.
And it is mostly the young who say they won't buy insurance because they are healthy. Thirty-one percent of respondents age 18-29 cited that reason. Only 6 percent of those 30-49 said they were healthy enough to remain uninsured.
Deborah Chollet, a health insurance research leader at Mathematica Policy Research in Washington, D.C., told Bankrate that the multimedia advertising campaigns targeting the "young invincibles" may have missed another target group: low-income, young families.
"They're probably not spending a lot of time watching television, they never read a newspaper, and if they listen to radio, it's probably music in the car," she said. "In communities of color, people might hear about [Obamacare] in church, but for people who are not attached to a church, I don't know how they get the information."
Sabrina Corlette, research professor at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute, told Bankrate that the Obama administration may have focused too much on positive aspects of the law, such as tax subsidies, rather than the penalties imposed for not buying insurance.
"They found in Massachusetts, with 'RomneyCare,' that the individual mandate penalty absolutely motivated a lot of people to purchase insurance," Corlette said. "The Obama administration understandably tried to emphasize the positive, but people need to understand that the mandate is not insignificant – they could be hit with a big tax bill if they don't buy coverage."
Also, only 48 percent of the uninsured were aware they have only until March 31 to sign up. After that, they have to wait for next year's open enrollment, which begins November 15. The only exceptions are life changes such as a divorce or lost job.
Dr. Jane Hughes, an ophthalmologist, told Fox News that the Department of Health and Human Services and Medicare and Medicaid Services say they aren't keeping track of who had insurance and who didn't when they are signing up.
"It's absolutely not been worth the hassle, and I know why we did all of this: This was a socio-political agenda to take over one-sixth of the private sector economy using my profession — medicine — to do it."
Six million have been bumped off insurance plans because of Obamacare. 4.2 million have signed up. "If we had a big neon sign over Healthcare.gov it would be minus-1.8 million now enrolled. That's hardly a success story."
Cavuto decided to have fun with what he admitted was a serious subject, creating a March Madness-type bracket to determine the "Not-So-Sweet-16" reasons people aren't signing up.
"Cost" beat out all other takers including "Can't keep your plan," and "Limits on coverage."