The Affordable Care Act has dramatically reduced the number of Americans who don’t have health insurance. But nearly half, or 46 percent, of those who remain uninsured still have not heard of the individual mandate — which this year required most Americans to either get covered or pay a penalty.And 43 percent have not heard of the exchanges, such as HealthCare.gov, where low- and moderate-income Americans are eligible for federal subsidy dollars to help them pay for health insurance.
Those are among the findings of a new Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf of the national nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies, or TCHS.
Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, said the survey’s finding of low knowledge about the ACA is not consistent with other studies, however. He said that, in 2011, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that nearly two-thirds of the public reported that they were aware that the individual mandate was part of the health law.
A survey released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that the percentage of uninsured New Jerseyans has plunged 46 percent since 2013, to 11.5 percent in June. Nationally, the percentage of Americans without health insurance fell 22 percent, to 15 percent, over the past 11 months, according to TCHS.
The latest survey also found that, among those who remain uninsured, 11 percent said they did not obtain insurance because it is too expensive, and 27 percent said paying the tax penalty and health expenses costs less than paying for health insurance.
For those who did comply with the ACA’s individual mandate to purchase health coverage, the survey revealed a positive sentiment.
“More than three-quarters (78 percent) of the newly insured population are at least somewhat satisfied with the quality of the health care that they can access,” said TCHS Executive Director Hector De La Torre.
The survey also gauged the impact of the ACA on hiring plans, with a third of employers saying they will increase their headcount over the next two years and 11 percent forecasting a decline in workers as a result of the ACA.
The survey found that employment gains are more likely at businesses with more than 50 employees, which are impacted by the employer mandate. The survey found that 44 percent of the over-50 businesses are predicting an increase in their headcount, after accounting for the ACA.
Further, only half of small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, are aware of the Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace, or SHOP, which gives them the opportunity to get tax credits to purchase coverage for their employees.
“It’s not surprising that small employers are the least informed about the ACA and health care options in general,” said De La Torre. “Aside from large employers being more informed and prepared for the mandate, they seem optimistic and are adding headcount despite the fact that they will have to insure those new employees in the coming years.”
Cantor said the survey’s employer findings seem more on point: “Web-based access to the SHOP has been delayed, so it is not surprising that awareness lags. The expected increase in headcount is encouraging, and probably reflect the continuing, albeit slow, economic recovery.”
Other key findings from the survey include:
- Among those who remain uninsured, 44 percent are between ages 18 and 34, and 33 percent are Latino.
- 22 percent said they did not obtain health insurance prior to the ACA deadline because they were not aware of the individual mandate to obtain coverage.
- Less than half (42 percent) of the uninsured could afford health insurance premiums of just $100 per month.
- Only about one-fifth (22 percent) of uninsured Americans are currently able to afford routine health expenses, and only 5 percent are currently saving for health care expenses.
ALSO ON NJBIZ:
McCarter & English joining forces with prominent tech law firm
Hill International moving HQ from Marlton to Philadelphia
Noted health care lawyer leaves Meadowlands Hospital for McElroy Deutsch