Most Uninsured Americans Ignoring Health Exchange Sites
Well-Being

Most Uninsured Americans Ignoring Health Exchange Sites

by Frank Newport

Three in 10 are familiar with the exchanges

PRINCETON, NJ -- In the midst of widespread news coverage of problems with the federal health exchange website, relatively few uninsured Americans (18%) -- the primary target population for the exchanges -- have so far attempted to visit an exchange website. The percentage is slightly higher, 22%, among uninsured Americans who say they plan to get insurance through the exchanges.

Have you personally gone to, or attempted to go to, a government health insurance exchange website since the Internet-based health exchanges opened on October 1, or not?

These results are based on a series of questions Gallup asked uninsured Americans about the health exchanges from Oct. 23-Nov. 6.

Gallup previously found that less than half of uninsured Americans (44%) who plan to get insurance say they will do so through an exchange, and about one in four say they are more likely to pay a fine instead of getting insurance. These findings help explain the low percentage of the uninsured who have attempted to access the exchange websites.

Still, the fact that less than a quarter of uninsured Americans who say they plan to get insurance through an exchange have visited one so far suggests that other factors are at work. It may be that many uninsured Americans are waiting to try out the health exchange websites until their highly publicized problems are fixed, or they may simply be putting off decisions about getting insurance until later.

Three in 10 uninsured Americans are somewhat or very familiar with the exchanges, and that lack of familiarity is similar among those who claim they will most likely buy insurance through the exchanges.

Overall, about 17% of U.S. adults interviewed between Oct. 23 and Nov. 6 reported having no health insurance, similar to the percentages found in the first three quarters of this year.

Implications

The health exchange websites are not only fraught with the technical problems that have led to so much news coverage in recent weeks, but have also generated relatively little interest or use among uninsured Americans -- the primary target group for the exchanges. The majority of uninsured Americans are unfamiliar with the exchanges and relatively few have tried to access them to date, even among those who say that eventually, they will most likely get their insurance through an exchange website.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 23-Nov. 6, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 854 uninsured adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of uninsured adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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