As we listen to howls of outrage from conservatives over the Obama administration’s decision to provide some wiggle room over the March 31 enrollment deadline for the federal insurance exchanges, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s tracking poll on perceptions of the Affordable Care Act contains some genuinely depressing news:
As the clock ticks down on open enrollment for new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that six in ten of the uninsured are unaware of the March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage. When reminded of the deadline and the fine for not getting covered, half of those who lack coverage as of mid-March say they plan to remain uninsured. Meanwhile, four in ten of the uninsured are still unaware of the law’s subsidies to help lower-income Americans purchase coverage, and half don’t know about the law’s expansion of Medicaid.
The poll also shows that two-thirds of the uninsured have not attempted to secure insurance over the last six months, so it’s not like the problem can be attributed to the initial problems at healthcare.gov, unless you assume large numbers of people were spooked by the bad publicity (unlikely, given the apparent lack of knowledge about all aspects of Obamacare evident among the uninsured).
You can certainly argue that the administration and Obamacare proponents have vastly underestimated the difficulty of informing the uninsured of their new options. But on the other hand, the common conservative claim that “America” has looked at Obamacare thoroughly and rejected it misses what is going on almost entirely.