CTNJ file photo
Access Health CT storefront in New Britain (CTNJ file photo)

Connecticut residents may have been lucky to get a health insurance website that works, but according to a recent national poll one-third of the uninsured are unaware that the law requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine.

The Kaiser Health Tracking poll released last week found that six in ten of the uninsured are unaware of the March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage. The same poll found that 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.

At a press conference last week Access Health CT CEO Kevin Counihan, who is in charge of Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, said he doesn’t know how many uninsured Connecticut residents have sought coverage.

Counihan said that they working with the Kaiser Family Foundation in order to come up with a calculation of how many previously uninsured were able to attain coverage through the exchange. Prior to the Affordable Care Act’s passage Connecticut had about 286,000 uninsured, which is about 8 percent of the total population.

Connecticut’s goal is to enroll 185,000 residents before the midnight deadline. About 62 percent of those signing up are enrolling in Medicaid and about 38 percent are enrolling with one of the three private carriers on the exchange.

Last June, Access Health CT launched a $15 million marketing campaign aimed at the uninsured.

“The goal of this paid media effort is really simple: It’s to make sure that we have a program that is going to reach out to all the uninsured residents here in the state,” Jason Madrak, chief marketing office for Access Health CT said last summer. “. . . and let them know that there is a new system, a new marketplace coming where they can actually go and get coverage.”

Beyond the paid media campaign, Connecticut was the only state to open up two retail storefronts in New Britain and New Haven. 

The retail stores had more than 12,800 visitors this month and were averaging about 300 visitors per day, according to officials. Enrollments in the month of March were expected to exceed 6,400 and there have been more than 4,000 people who have attended enrollment fairs this month.

The navigators and assisters engaged nearly 300,000 Connecticut residents and enrolled more than 19,000 of them in plans.

However, it’s still too soon to tell if they reached their target uninsured population.

“Despite extensive campaigns in media and on the ground attempting to get them enrolled, just one in nine (11 percent) of the uninsured say they have been personally contacted by anyone about the health care law through a phone call, email, text message, or door-to-door visit,” the Kaiser Health Tracking poll found.

There are also misperceptions about the Affordable Care Act that still persist.

Some believe it does things that it does not do. For example, the poll that 46 percent think the law allows undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance, and another 22 percent are unsure whether it does.

The poll also found that while the uninsured still have a negative view of the law, it’s not as negative as it was just one month ago.

In March, 45 percent of the uninsured say they have an unfavorable view of the law compared to 56 percent in February. About 37 percent have a favorable view which is up sharply from 22 percent last month.

“As more Americans gain coverage under the law, we can expect the group who remain uninsured to change over time, and some changes in opinion may be attributable to changes in who remains uninsured, rather than a shift in opinion among individuals,” the poll concluded.

Connecticut’s exchange is holding firm on its decision to end the open enrollment period at midnight. The federal exchange’s deadline has been extended until the middle of April.