WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – A recent Gallup Poll indicates that seven out of ten Americans without any health insurance are still “not too familiar” or “not familiar at all” with the health insurance exchanges offered courtesy of the Affordable Care Act.

The poll, which was conducted earlier this month by asking 702 randomly selected uninsured American adults about their level of knowledge on the health exchanges, found that only 6 percent of people in the United States who are eligible for coverage through the exchanges are “very familiar” with them.

Additionally, researchers at Gallup noted in a release on the poll’s findings that as many as 34 percent of uninsured Americans plan on paying the fine that comes with not acquiring coverage, rather than purchasing a plan.

“If uninsured Americans who say they are more likely to pay the fine actually follow through on their current intentions, and the remainder of uninsured Americans all get health insurance, then the uninsured rate in the United States could drop by as much as two-thirds,” Gallup officials wrote. “While this would be a significant improvement over the status quo, that would still leave the U.S. quite a bit short of the ACA’s goal of universal health insurance coverage.”

As federal health officials work around the clock to fix technology glitches plaguing the website where U.S. citizens can obtain health insurance under the new federal law, many throughout the nation who know about the exchanges still have little understanding of how the law works.

Trained counselors are spending the bulk of their time educating people about what the Affordable Care Act is, not signing them up for insurance.

“A lot of people are going to be quite confused and think they can’t afford it and aren’t going to be eligible,” said Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard.

He also worries that people aren’t getting the facts in Republican-run states because state officials aren’t invested in outreach.

“The worrisome thing for the (Obama) administration is that those who would be most likely to go through the registration are, of course, the people with the most serious illness. … For them, figuring out how to get on is really essential to their lives. But the confusion is likely to affect people who don’t feel an immediate need to have health insurance,” Blendon said.

Federal health officials estimate that 7 million people would gain coverage in the first year through the markets, including 477,000 in Florida, where roughly 3.5 million lack health insurance.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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