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60 percent of uninsured not aware open enrollment ends next week

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Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to get the word out, only 40 percent of uninsured Americans could identify March 31 as the deadline for enrolling in a health plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance exchanges. This is one of the findings of a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll published March 26.

Five percent of the uninsured surveyed believe the deadline for enrolling had already passed; 13 percent believe they have until sometime after March to enroll, and 43 percent just do not know when open enrollment closes.

The Kaiser Health tracking poll surveyed 1,504 adults living in the United States. Survey participants, both cell phone and landline users, were contacted by pollsters during the week of March 11 - 17.

Nearly a quarter of the uninsured did not realize they would be assessed a fine for failure to obtain health insurance. When pollsters asked the uninsured if they planned on purchasing health insurance to avoid a penalty, 50 percent said they plan to remain uninsured.

Most Americans will be fined $95 or 1 percent of their modified adjusted gross income, whichever is greater, for failure to have health insurance for at least nine months in 2014. There are several hardship exemptions to the penalty.

Of the uninsured respondents, 40 percent did not know that the ACA provides financial assistance for purchasing health insurance to those with low or moderate incomes. Pre-paid income tax credits are available to households with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, approximately $46,000 for individuals and 95,400 for a family of four.

Individuals that wish to purchase health insurance through the Healthcare.gov website have until next Monday to enroll in a health plan. If applicants are unable to complete enrollment because of technical problems with the website, they will be allowed extra time beyond the March 31 deadline to complete the process. Open enrollment for 2015 begins Nov. 15.

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