As the third open enrollment season for Obamacare comes to close on Sunday, new data signals that the nation’s historic gains in health care coverage are tapering off. Additionally, those who remain uninsured are largely uninformed about their health insurance options and obligations.
A new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that only 15 percent of the uninsured know this year’s enrollment deadline. And only one percent are aware that the penalty for being uninsured is jumping to $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income in 2016.
Nearly half (47 percent) of the uninsured know they have to pay a penalty for not having insurance in 2015, while an equal share don’t think they have to pay a penalty. The remaining 6 percent don’t know about the penalties.
Despite the Obama administration’s outreach efforts to target the 10.5 million uninsured Americans who are eligible for coverage, most uninsured remain uninformed about their options and obligations. Around two-thirds (67 percent) of uninsured people say they haven’t been contacted about signing up for coverage and more than half (57 percent) haven’t tried to obtain more information on their own.
The Kaiser poll is just one sign that gains in coverage are slowing. The Congressional Budget Office slashed its estimate of exchange enrollment from 21 million to 13 million by 2026 in its annual Budget and Economic Outlook that was released on Tuesday.
According to the CBO, millions of people who aren’t eligible for income-based subsidies will instead purchase coverage directly from an insurer, thereby reducing the number of people using the Obamacare exchanges. The CBO also reduced its estimates for marketplace enrollment in 2015 from 11 million to 9.5 million, with the difference being due to a smaller number of unsubsidized enrollees than anticipated.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, released earlier this month, found stagnant growth in the nation’s uninsured rate in 2015. The survey showed that 11.9 percent of adults were not covered by insurance in the final quarter of 2015, the same level as in the first quarter.
“This validates concerns that similarly large reductions may not be possible in the future because the remaining uninsured are harder to reach or less inclined to become insured more generally,” the survey reads.