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Poll: For First Time, Majority Of Uninsured Plan To Use Online Health Exchanges

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A woman reads the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman reads the HealthCare.gov insurance marketplace internet site in Washington, D.C. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – For the first time since the launch of the online health insurance exchanges that were a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, the majority of uninsured Americans are saying they will use the exchanges to obtain coverage of their own.

Polling conducted by Gallup indicates that the figure has been steadily increasing since the exchange launched in October. Their most recent research finds that 56 percent of uninsured Americans intend to obtain coverage through the exchanges.

“One possible factor in the growing popularity of exchange-based plans versus other sources is improvements made to the federal exchange website to correct a wide array of technical issues that plagued the site,” a release on the poll’s findings noted. “Another factor may be that previously uninsured Americans who now have health insurance for 2014 had other options, such as insurance through an employer or signing up on a spouse’s or parent’s plan.”

The release continued, “Those options may not be as available to those who remain uninsured.”

Those involved in the polling found that there was also an increase in the amount of people who plan to get insurance in general, be it through the online marketplaces or other means – 53 percent, in fact, are now planning to obtain health insurance. Conversely, just 38 percent of people without coverage intend to pay a fine, rather than obtain any coverage at all.

Researchers noted, however, that “both trends represent only modest improvements, and it may get harder to convince the remaining uninsured population to sign up for health insurance in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, customer service workers at a call center for insurance exchanges established under the federal health care overhaul have sued their employer in federal court, saying they were forced to work unpaid overtime.

The nine workers at a Boise facility who brought the suit against Maximus Inc. say the case could potentially apply to thousands of employees, and they’re asking a judge to award damages exceeding $5 million.

Maximus, which operates under a government contract, has not yet filed a response.

The lawsuit says the trainers are responsible for preparing new Maximus staffers to answer calls from around the country relating to the Affordable Care Act.

The workers say it’s difficult to determine just how much unpaid overtime they are owed because the company prevented them from filling out accurate time cards when they were classified as salaried workers.

Gallup’s poll was conducted through most of January, and involved over 1,500 uninsured American adults.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 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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