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Nongroup Enrollees Plan to Continue Purchasing Coverage Despite Repeal of Individual Mandate

Jaime Rosenberg
Nine in 10 people with non-group health insurance will continue buying coverage despite the repeal of the individual mandate and express worry over future availability and price of health coverage, according to a health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll also found that for the uninsured, the main reason for not purchasing coverage is that it is too expensive.
The majority of people with nongroup health insurance will continue to purchase coverage despite the repeal of the individual mandate and express worry over future availability and price of health coverage, according to a health tracking poll from Kaiser Family Foundation. 

In December 2017, the Republican tax reform plan signed into law included the elimination of the individual mandate, the part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required Americans to have health insurance, beginning in 2019. According to the poll, only 19% of nongroup enrollees and 11% of the uninsured are aware that the penalty had been repealed but is still in effect for 2018; however, 9 in 10 said they intend to continue to buy their own insurance despite the repeal. Nongroup enrollees are defined as people who have purchased health insurance themselves, whether through the ACA marketplace (marketplace enrollees) or outside of the ACA markets.

When it comes to reasons for purchasing insurance, the majority of nongroup enrollees indicated that the individual mandate was not the leading factor, with 66% saying it was either not a reason or a minor reason, compared with 34% saying it was a major reason. Instead, they reported the major reasons for purchasing insurance were protecting against high medical bills (75%) and peace of mind (66%).

The poll also inquired about views of the ACA marketplace and found that half the public thinks the marketplaces are “collapsing,” regardless of party identification and insurance type. The same was seen when asked about future coverage in their areas, with 51% of all nongroup enrollees and 58% of marketplace enrollees answering that they are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that there will be no insurance companies left selling plans in their area. Just under half of all nongroup enrollees (49%) and 58% of marketplace enrollees answered that they are worried their current insurance company will stop selling plans in their areas.

An even bigger concern among nongroup enrollees is the future affordability of coverage; 75% of all nongroup enrollees and 80% of marketplace enrollees reported being “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about out-of-pocket costs becoming so high they won’t be able to get the healthcare they need. Similarly, 77% of all nongroup enrollees and 82% of marketplace enrollees said they are worried health insurance premiums will increase so much they won’t be able to afford the plan they currently have.

The poll also took a look at experiences of the uninsured. “A potential target group for marketplace enrollment are those who remain without health coverage,” states the report. “When people who are uninsured are asked about the main reason they don’t have coverage, the most common response offered is that it is too expensive, and they can’t afford it (36%), followed by job-related issues such as unemployment of their employer doesn’t offer health insurance (20%).”

The majority (70%) of the uninsured said they have not tried to get health insurance in the past 6 months, while 30% said they have tried. Similarly, 35% reported that they have tried to figure out if they qualify for Medicaid or financial assistance to pay for health coverage in the past 6 months.

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