Understanding the Uninsured Now

The nation’s uninsurance rate has dropped significantly since the Affordable Care Act was enacted. But millions of Americans remain uninsured.

In order to get a full picture of the lives of the uninsured and explore their feelings around enrolling in health insurance, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned a national survey, conducted by PerryUndem and GMMB, with uninsured adults at the conclusion of the second open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplace.

The Issue

Most uninsured individuals value health insurance and many have been actively trying to get it on their own. However, they feel it is out of reach financially right now.

Key Findings

  • Of uninsured individuals, 43 percent say they have looked to get health insurance on their own in the last 12 months and a similar number (41%) report they went to the marketplace to find a health plan.

  • Almost 8 in 10 (79%) of the uninsured who looked for insurance say that after weighing everything, they could not afford a plan.

  • More than half of all uninsured (56%) say they are likely to go to the marketplace to find a health plan in the future. But there are knowledge gaps.

  • Six in 10 are confused about or have not heard of the tax credit, and more than 7 in 10 want one-on-one help understanding their insurance options.

  • After learning about the increasing penalty amounts for 2015 and 2016, 26 percent say this information makes them more likely to get insurance. Of note, only 6 percent say the increasing fine would make them less likely to get insurance.


Most of the uninsured population values health insurance but many see cost as a barrier. Research findings point to the need for education around the tax credit and the increasing penalty for not having insurance.

About the Study

This report presents the findings from a national survey of 1,270 uninsured adults, ages 18 to 64, fielded May 5 through May 17, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 3.4 percentage points. Methodology, survey toplines and the full public use data set are also available.