WASHINGTON, D.C. — Get America Covered has launched its third nationwide Open Enrollment push by releasing a unique new national survey shedding light on the views of both current Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace customers as well as uninsured individuals who are eligible to sign up for coverage during the upcoming 2019 Open Enrollment period, which begins November 1. The survey, which mirrors a 2017 Get America Covered national poll, found high and growing demand for health coverage among both the insured and uninsured. It also shows that the actions and public statements of the Trump Administration have threatened Open Enrollment by contributing to misinformation and misperceptions about the comprehensive, affordable coverage available through the marketplaces as well as the enrollment process itself.
“The good news heading into Open Enrollment is that the marketplaces are stable, demand for coverage is very strong, and more than 80% of those consumers already enrolled in marketplace plans are satisfied with their coverage,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered. “The bad news is that the Trump administration is still doing everything it can to undermine Open Enrollment, including eliminating most advertising and outreach, pushing junk plans, and attacking the ACA. As our survey shows, the administration’s actions have spread misinformation and help fuel misperceptions about the comprehensive, affordable coverage options available. We’re back again this year to cut through the misinformation so as many people as possible understand their options, the tax credits available that can reduce premiums to as low as zero dollars per month, and where to get the help they need to sign up for the coverage they and their families want.”
The national survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates from September 27 to October 6, surveyed 300 adults who are currently insured through the marketplaces as well as 400 uninsured individuals who are eligible to enroll for 2020. Key findings include:
• Coverage is important to consumers and many intend to get covered: Consumers believe it is just as important to have health insurance in 2019 as it was in 2017, and most insured consumers and just as many uninsured individuals intend to purchase health insurance for 2020.
• ACA customers are satisfied with their plans: Insured consumers continue to register high levels of satisfaction with their health insurance, with 84% saying that they are satisfied with their current insurance plan.
• Little knowledge of current Open Enrollment deadline: Awareness of the final deadline to enroll for coverage is low among both insured and uninsured consumers. A mere five percent of uninsured consumers and only 19% of insured consumers are aware of the Dec. 15 deadline.
• Knowledge gaps regarding the availability of affordable coverage persist: Many consumers may be underestimating the availability of health insurance plans that they would consider affordable. The majority of uninsured individuals (58%) and more than one in four insured consumers (27%) do not think there are affordable health insurance plans available for 2020; however, 67% of insured consumers and 84% of uninsured consumers say they consider $100 or less per month to be affordable. This exposes a significant gap between what consumers feel would be an affordable cost for health insurance for 2020 and their expectations of what the actual cost will be – and what is actually available on the marketplaces.
• Thanks to the financial help that nearly nine out of 10 customers receive, one out of three marketplace customers will have a plan available in 2020 with a premium of less than $10 per month according to new data released this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The vast majority will have a plan available for less than $100 per month. The lack of outreach and education from the administration combined with outright misinformation appears to be contributing to a significant gap between perception and reality.
• Lack of awareness about tax credits that can reduce premiums to as low as zero dollars: Many consumers are not aware they are eligible for tax credits that will reduce the cost of health insurance and make it affordable—likely a key factor in misperceptions about affordability. Just 12% of uninsured and only half of insured consumers are aware that they qualify for a tax credit that lowers the monthly cost of health insurance and makes it affordable.
• Zeroing-out of individual mandate penalty has limited, but significant impact: Most consumers are not aware that the penalty for people who do not have health insurance has been eliminated; upon being told of this change, most still say they will purchase health insurance for 2020 or would at least consider it. Even after being told of the change, about seven in 10 insured individuals say they still plan to buy insurance. Another 25% says the chances are 50-50. And among uninsured individuals, about seven in 10 say they still plan to purchase coverage or their chances of doing so are 50-50. Nevertheless, the elimination of the mandate penalty appears to be an important factor for a significant minority of the uninsured.
• Limited knowledge but negative views of junk plans: Short-term health insurance plans are not well known today among insured (only 15% are aware) and uninsured (seven percent are aware) consumers, but, when people learn about them, substantial majorities of insured (64%) and uninsured (59%) consumers view short-term plans unfavorably.
• Health care repeal lawsuit adding to confusion, uncertainty: There is uncertainty about whether the Affordable Care Act will still be in place in 2020, and the Texas v. Azar lawsuit challenging the entirety of the law adds to this uncertainty.
• Disapproval of Trump administration efforts to undermine the ACA and Open Enrollment: Both insured and uninsured audiences disapprove of the Trump Administration’s actions related to the Affordable Care Act by large margins. When told that the Administration has “cut most of the funding for education about enrollment deadlines and how to get coverage and has cut federal funding for staff to provide free assistance to help people enroll,” fully 76% of insured consumers and 67% of uninsured individuals say they disapprove of these actions.
“More than anyone else, CMS has the information, resources, and reach necessary to help educate people about just how affordable and easy it is to get covered,” said Peck. “Unfortunately, they are doing just the opposite, and our survey provides concrete new evidence of how the gap between perception and reality is undermining Open Enrollment. That is a gap we will be working to close in the weeks ahead.”