The Washington Times - September 30, 2013, 12:14PM

A new survey says two out of every three uninsured Americans plan to acquire medical insurance by January instead of paying a fine for flouting the individual mandate tied to President Obama’s health care law.

Gallup found that a quarter of respondents plan on paying the fine.


Health insurance markets tied to Mr. Obama’s law will debut on Tuesday, kicking off a key pillar of the contentious reforms at the heart of an ongoing spending battle on Capitol Hill that could result in a government shutdown.

The markets, known as exchanges, allow those without employer-based coverage to buy private health plans, often with the help of income-based government subsidies. The coverage takes effect in January, the same month that about half the states are scheduled to expand Medicaid enrollment to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Less than half (48 percent) of the uninsured persons surveyed by Gallup said they planned to obtain insurance through a federal or state health exchange, while 36 percent said they plan not to and about 16 percent said they had not decided or had no opinion.

Overall, 83 percent of American are aware they need to get coverage or pay a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income — penalties that will increase in future years — as a consequence for failing to have coverage during 2014, Gallup said.

However, that level of awareness dropped to 68 percent among those who are uninsured — the population that is affected by the mandate.

Additionally, slightly more than half of the uninsured are “not at all familiar” with the exchanges tied to Obamacare, while only 5 percent told Gallup they are “very familiar” with the markets.

That could spell bad news for the early stages of implementing the law, although supporters of the law say enrollment and awareness will ramp up during open enrollment through March and that some enrollees do not realize that states exchanges — such as “Cover Oregon,” “D.C. Health Link,” or “Kynect” in Kentucky — are tied to the health care law.

The poll can be found at