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Nearly 30 million Americans remain uninsured

Kaiser Family Foundation: Lack of awareness, gaps in eligibility, cost remain barriers to gaining coverage

Nearly 30 million Americans remained uninsured in 2014, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

KFF found that 22 percent of the uninsured population were young adults, ages 19 through 25, noting that the lack of coverage for that age group may be due to lower incomes and unsteady employment. For the so-called "invincibles" who tend to be healthy, paying the fine for not obtaining health insurance is less expensive than enrolling in an exchange plan, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

In addition, 54 percent of the uninsured had incomes listed below the poverty line and remained without coverage because their state did not expand Medicaid.

Other notable findings include the following:

  • 44 percent were uninsured because they did not have access to health insurance through their job, citing reasons such as self-employment.
  • 27 percent did not gain coverage because their employer did not offer plans for which they were eligible.
  • 30 percent of the uninsured population were Hispanic, while only 13 percent of this demographic contributed to the total number of those insured; KFF noted that this is most likely due to language barriers and work status.

Why do so many Americans remain without coverage? "Lack of awareness of new coverage options and financial assistance appear to be a major barrier," the study said. "In addition, gaps in eligibility or confusion about eligibility are evident among the remaining uninsured."

At the beginning of last year, only 31 percent of Medicaid-eligible uninsured adults thought they were eligible, while only 35 percent of uninsured adults who qualified for exchange subsidies knew so.  

Additionally, cost played a major role. Among those surveyed, 48 percent said they remained uninsured because coverage was too expensive. When KFF asked the polled population why they did not have coverage, more than half who seemingly qualified for subsidized insurance or Medicaid said that plans were still too expensive.

To assist the uninsured population and help some of those 30 million Americans gain coverage, insurers can help subsidized enrollees understand their after-subsidy rates so that they can choose the plan that's best for them.

For more:
- here's the KFF study

Related Articles:
Report: Out-of-pocket costs too high
Hidden fees plague consumers and insurers
Exchange targets assume they don't qualify for subsidies
Survey: Subsidy unawareness deters reform enrollment
3 ways insurers can head off confusion, 'rate shock' at next exchange open enrollment
Report: Young adults better off paying fine than enrolling in exchange