The health insurance exchanges put into place by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were intended in many ways to help consumers who do not have such coverage to obtain it for a relatively low cost. However, new data suggests that the number of uninsured Americans who have actually taken the time to sign up for the marketplaces is extremely low.
A pair of separate studies released recently showed just how widespread this problem is, according to a report from the Washington Post. One found that as few as one in every 10 people who would qualify for a private plan through the exchanges had actually enrolled in them through the end of February. The other noted that about half the adults who should be eligible for it haven't even taken the time to look for information from the marketplaces, and do not plan to do so. Further, it seems that the people who don't have such coverage and don't really plan on getting it any time soon feel this way about the situation simply because they do not believe they could afford to pay for it.
Larry Levitt, a senior vice president for the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the newspaper that the difficulties in getting uninsured Americans signed up could be a major problem for the law, the report said. Moreover, state and federal government officials have just three weeks before the end of March, when the open enrollment period ends, and those who do not have insurance will face a fine for every person who's part of their household who is not covered.
There are some positives
On the other hand, it's also important to note that only about 27 percent of those polled in one of the studies, conducted by consultants McKinsey and Co., told pollsters that they'd been going without any kind of health insurance coverage for the majority of the past year, the report said. However, even that positive was muted somewhat, because the number was actually up from just 11 percent a month earlier. Further, more than half of those who had started to pay their monthly insurance premiums when they did not have coverage before.
Health insurance companies might want to join the push to get more people signed up by the end of the month, as this could have a significant impact on their bottom lines going forward.