Understanding consumers' perceptions of barriers to enrolling in coverage will help to identify knowledge gaps and to test messaging that will motivate them to enroll.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently conducted a research study to check in with consumers midway through open enrollment. Focus groups were held in late November 2013 in Philadelphia, Richmond and Chicago with uninsured and self-purchase populations. A national survey of 1,147 uninsured individuals, ages 18-64 was fielded December 19-29, 2013.
The study results indicate that while most of the uninsured have heard of the marketplace in their state, only about one-quarter had visited the website at the end of December. There is an opportunity to use messaging that addresses barriers and motivates consumers to pursue coverage before enrollment ends on March 31, 2014.
Cost continues to be the main concern for those without health coverage. Consumers assume health insurance options are not affordable and this perception keeps them from exploring their options. Most have also not heard that financial help is available to millions of Americans or that more people are eligible for low-cost or free coverage in states that have expanded Medicaid. Knowing that consumers are making decisions through a financial lens, it’s important that messaging address affordability concerns. The idea that they could get financial help is a top motivator for the uninsured.
Understanding the Uninsured Now
Most uninsured individuals value health insurance and many have been actively trying to get it on their own since the ACA was enacted. However, they feel it is out of reach financially right now.