1 in 4 Uninsured Americans Plan to Remain That Way; Politics Influence Decisions

One in four uninsured Americans plan on paying the government fine imposed for not having insurance, a percentage that has remained the same in the last month, according to the latest results of a daily tracking Gallup poll that began in September.

Gallup estimates that 17 percent of U.S. adults currently do not have health insurance. With one in four, or 28 percent of the uninsured group not planning to get insurance, that means a minimum of 5 percent of all U.S. adults would be uninsured, leaving the country short of its goal of universal coverage.

A key to making the law succeed is getting younger and, presumably, healthier Americans to sign up for insurance at a time in their lives when they are unlikely to need it. Importantly, the percentage planning to pay the fine is not skewed toward younger uninsured Americans — 26 percent of the uninsured under age 30 say they are more likely to pay the fine, compared with 30 percent of those aged 30 and older.

Also, familiarity with the law seems to make little difference in one’s intention to get insurance or pay the fine. Those who are aware of the insurance requirement (30 percent) are only slightly more likely to say they will pay the fine for not having insurance than those who were unaware of the requirement (24 percent) prior to being interviewed.

The biggest differences appear by party identification — 45 percent of uninsured Republicans plan to pay the fine, compared with 31 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats.

The fact that younger uninsured Americans are no more likely than older uninsured Americans to say they will pay the fine could be a positive sign for the law’s ability to keep insurance affordable, assuming that the younger uninsured are no less healthy than the older uninsured. Gallup recently reported that younger Americans are less likely than older Americans to be familiar with the law.

The biggest challenge to achieving universal coverage, however, may not be in making Americans aware of the requirement or in getting younger uninsured Americans to sign up. Rather, it may be getting those likely to oppose the law, namely Republicans, to overcome their ideological opposition to the law and sign up for insurance.

Source: Gallup , December 5, 2013

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