New Kaiser Poll: Six in Ten Uninsured Still Unaware of Open-Enrollment Deadline

by Patrick Brennan

Six in ten uninsured Americans aren’t aware that the deadline for purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act is March 31, according to a poll conducted just two weeks before the law’s D-Day.

When informed of the deadline and the fact that they’ll have to pay a fine due to the individual mandate, half of them said they’d choose to remain uninsured, the new survey, from the Kaiser Foundation, found.

Awareness of the law doesn’t seem to be much better now than it was a month ago, before the Obama administration ramped up its PR push: Then, just 24 percent of respondents knew the deadline was March 31, and now 40 percent know. Kaiser’s polling of the uninsured does have a substantial margin of error, since it’s just a subset of their larger poll, but little other polling of the uninsured exists.

HHS confirmed Tuesday evening that March 31 won’t necessarily be the deadline for everyone — if people make a good-faith effort to complete paperwork by the date, which is next Monday, they’ll be able to enroll as late as mid April. This wasn’t exactly news: The Obama administration had hinted that they wouldn’t turn away enrollees who had tried to apply but couldn’t complete their applications by the deadline, whether because of remaining website issues or some other problem.

Most of the uninsured, however, will be out of luck. Enrollment for the exchanges doesn’t close entirely at the end of the month — someone who loses a job or loses their insurance otherwise will be able to enroll, but those uninsured now won’t be able to buy a plan again until November, for coverage starting in January 2015.

Approval of the law did rebound substantially from last month’s poll, though, erasing a big drop-off I noted earlier in the week. The past two months, when approval of the law dropped sharply among the group, could have just been a fluke, or perhaps the PR push to get them enrolled has warmed them to the law — without informing them much about it, apparently.

The Agenda

NRO’s domestic-policy blog, by Reihan Salam.