Low Awareness for Health Exchange Sites for Most Uninsured Americans

Posted by Jake Richardson on Dec 12, 2013 11:33:50 AM


Gallup has released some very interesting data based on their research about the number of uninsured Americans who are unaware of the health exchanges. According to their surveys, only about 30% of the uninsured are aware of the health exchange sites.

About 44% of the insured who said they will seek insurance will get it from a health exchange. There are many reasons why people might be avoiding the exchanges. One is simply not trusting the government for anything. A CBS News poll from this year found only about 20% of their respondents said they do trust the government.

Another potential reason is that they have heard enough or too much negative publicity about the health exchange website problems that they won't bother trying to apply because they believe they would be wasting their time. Another reported problem is that the sites might have security issues, so not signing up now could seem like a wiser choice to avoid any issues with identify theft.

Some of those who are not flocking to the sites are unfamiliar with the sign-up process and how to navigate through the various options to obtain insurance. This barrier could be overcome easily once there is more buy-in and use of the sites. For others, the issue may be the the digital divide. Older people and the less well off still have some lack of comfort with using the Web and understanding how to complete an online application. They also might not have consistent Internet access.

(One report has contradicted this idea though, saying it is older Americans that have been signing up, because they have health problems that need to be addressed.) What has been unexpected is the low turnout in younger enrollees.

It appears the state health exchange sites are receiving more applications and visits than the federal one. This is likely to be because it is easier to create a single site for one state and insurers and residents than it is for a whole nation. All eleven of the state-run exchanges and at least 1,000 enrollees, but 27 of the states that used the federal exchange site had less than 1,000. It has been estimated that 95% of the enrollments for 2014 have not happened.

If the state health exchange sites are signing up the most people now, this trend may continue because the federal site still remains less than 50% complete.

Having health insurance could relieve stress for many workers around the country, because health insurance can help prevent very large health care costs for individuals. Even with a large deductible, health insurance is generally a better bet than having to pay for the cost of an injury or illness out of pocket.

Image Credit: Blue String, Wikipedia

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