Half of uninsured look to Obamacare exchanges for coverage

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Roughly half of uninsured adults and almost half of people without employer-based insurance had looked at or planned to check out the Obamacare marketplace to see what it offered, according to a new brief from the Urban Institute.

But the brief, released Thursday through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also said nearly one in four uninsured persons (23.4 percent) had not even heard about the new health exchanges, even though the law is designed to help them and only 17 percent of the overall population had no knowledge of the portals.

The state-based exchanges are a key pillar of President Obama’s law, allowing consumers to compare plans and buy coverage, often with the help of government subsidies.

After early glitches on the federal portal, HealthCare.gov, and ongoing problems on state-run websites, about half of those who used an Obamacare website told the Urban Institute it was “very” or “somewhat” easy to use.

“With less than a month remaining before the March 31 deadline, it’s encouraging that so many people who are eligible for affordable coverage are researching options and planning to enroll,” said Katherine Hempstead, of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“But with 23 percent of uninsured people unaware of the marketplaces, it shows us that outreach and education efforts need to intensify during these final weeks.”

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