Advertisement

Many Uninsured Adults Unaware of Coverage, Subsidy Options

Text Size:
Many Uninsured Adults Unaware of Coverage, Subsidy Options

Most uninsured adults in the United States weren’t aware of Marketplace health plans established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and even fewer knew about federal subsidies available with these plans, according to newly published results from a survey by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit public policy research organization.

Since 2014, federal subsidies have been available to people who qualify for them based on their income level, and buy health insurance through either the federal Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) or their state’s insurance exchange. Most people who sign up for these plans qualify for subsidies, bringing the current average out-of-pocket cost of premiums for people insured under ACA plans to about $68 per month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. This average cost is currently about 50% lower than it would be without extra subsidies provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, a law signed earlier this year by President Joe Biden that provides these extra subsidies through the end of 2022.

Advertisement

The latest survey results are based on answers provided by uninsured adults, ages 18 to 64, in April 2021. The goal of the survey was “to better identify the subgroups who may benefit from additional enrollment efforts as new funding for outreach is distributed” under the American Rescue Plan. The results showed that when it comes to outreach, there’s still lots of room for improvement. Only 48.2% of respondents said they had heard about Marketplace coverage options “a lot or some,” while 51.8% said they knew “a little or nothing at all.” When asked if they had heard about Marketplace financial assistance (federal subsidies), only 32.2% knew “a lot or some,” while 67.8% knew “a little or nothing at all.”

Younger respondents, English speakers among those least familiar with offerings

Among respondents who knew “a little or nothing at all” about Marketplace coverage, 55.1% were ages 18 to 34, 28.2% were ages 35 to 49, and 16.7% were ages 50 to 64. Similarly, among those who knew “a little or nothing at all” about financial assistance, 53.4% were ages 18 to 34, 29.4% were ages 35 to 49, and 17.2% were ages 50 to 64. This age breakdown shows that outreach to younger uninsured adults may be a better way to increase enrollment than outreach to older uninsured adults.

To get cutting-edge diabetes news, strategies for blood glucose management, nutrition tips, healthy recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletters!

Respondents who lacked knowledge of Marketplace coverage were much more likely to be English speakers (70.3%) than Spanish speakers or bilingual (29.7%), showing that while Spanish-language outreach might be helpful to increase enrollment, outreach to English speakers has the greatest potential to be effective. And 83.1% of those who lacked knowledge of Marketplace coverage had Internet access at home, demonstrating that this isn’t a major barrier to learning about health insurance options — or signing up for a plan — for most people.

Perhaps surprisingly, a substantial proportion of people who lacked knowledge about Marketplace coverage had a higher education level — 35.0% had some college or more, while 43.1% had a high school diploma and 21.9% had less than a complete high school education. And employment status appeared not to be a major factor in lacking this knowledge — 49.2% of those who didn’t know much about Marketplace coverage were not working, while 50.7% were working. These responses show that while some employer-based outreach might be helpful, it’s equally important to try to reach people who aren’t currently employed.

“These findings suggest that outreach and enrollment assistance efforts will need to be larger and well targeted to ensure uninsured adults can take advantage of newly expanded enrollment opportunities and subsidies under the American Rescue Plan,” the authors of the survey fact sheet wrote. Of course, it remains to be seen whether federal and state agencies make good use of these survey results, and other data sources, in their outreach efforts going forward.

Want to learn more about saving on your diabetes care? Read “Save Money on Medicines,” “How Your Healthcare Team Can Help You Save on Medications” and “Do’s and Don’t’s for Saving Money With Diabetes.” 

Get Diabetes-Friendly Recipes In Your Inbox

Sign up for Free

Stay Up To Date On News & Advice For Diabetes

Sign up for Free

Get On Track With Daily Lifestyle Tips

Sign up for Free

Save Your Favorites

Save This Article