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SURVEY: Lack of Awareness, Not Tech Glitches, Main Barrier to Health Care Enrollment

A survey released today by Get Covered American and conducted by health care research firm PerryUndem found that lack of awareness – not issues with the HealthCare.gov website – is the main barrier to health care enrollment at this stage of the Affordable Care Act roll-out. Specifically, 72 percent of the uninsured aren't aware that there are tax subsidies available to them through the ACA and thus don't realize that the plans offered are actually affordable to them.

While news coverage of the federal exchange rollout has predominantly focused on technical problems, seven out of ten uninsured adults have not yet actually visited the exchange website yet. About half of the people who did visit the website experienced glitches, but 92 percent either went back to try again or plan to in the future. That also means that 86 percent of uninsured adults have not experienced any glitches, and that technical problems have only deterred a few people.

Above all, the survey points to a clear need for increased awareness, especially in places like Texas where the local government is hostile towards health care reform and misinformation is rampant.

The organization Get Covered America is hiring organizers in eleven target states as part of a "staffing surge" to help get the word about options under the ACA in the final three months of open enrollment. Fifteen of them will be headed to Texas – the biggest pool of new hires nationwide. Field organizing is a critical component of outreach on health insurance, since the uninsured are often among the hardest populations to reach in other ways.

Mimi Garcia, Texas State Director for the Get Covered America campaign, explained that, "More Texans are getting the security that comes with having the health coverage they need, but a lot of folks across the state still need more information about their new options and the fact that they might qualify for financial assistance. This weekend and all through this second half of open enrollment, we're boosting the on-the-ground efforts to share this crucial message with Texans."

Texas stands the most to gain of any state through the ACA, but there are only a few short months to connect the dots between the close to 6 million uninsured people and the affordable plans available to most of them through the federal exchange. With 82 percent of the uninsured unaware of the approaching March enrollment deadline, getting the word out couldn't be more important.

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