Less Than Half Think They Will Have Insurance; Fewer Believe They Qualify for Subsidies or Medicaid

Less than 40 percent of uninsured U.S. adults believe they will have insurance in 2014, according to new survey findings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Researchers from the Urban Institute, who authored the report, found that many of these uninsured adults are likely to go without insurance because they inaccurately believe that they neither qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance in the health insurance marketplaces, nor are eligible for Medicaid.

Additionally, according to the survey data, only 31 percent of uninsured adults who are eligible for Medicaid think they are eligible. Furthermore, only 35 percent of uninsured adults who qualify for marketplace insurance subsidies know this. The issue brief authors say that if efforts are made to raise awareness of Medicaid and subsidy eligibility among those who qualify, the number of uninsured adults who gain coverage in 2014 could significantly increase.

Only about four in 10 survey respondents who anticipated staying uninsured thought they would have to pay a penalty due to the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. The issue brief authors say this signals a need for more awareness about the individual mandate to help people avoid paying the penalty.

"The survey respondents' relative lack of knowledge about the availability of free or subsidized health insurance illustrates the need for increased outreach," said Katherine Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "People should know that help is available so they can get high-quality, affordable health care."

The findings come from the Health Reform Monitoring Survey (HRMS), which is conducted by the Urban Institute on a quarterly basis, with additional funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

A full list of the HRMS issue briefs can be found here.