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Many without health insurance plan to stay that way, study says

WASHINGTON — The deadline for signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is coming up fast.

Uninsured people have until the end of March to sign up for insurance, or they’ll be subject to a fine of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income, whichever is greater.

But many of the uninsured have decided to stay that way. A survey released Monday by Bankrate.com says that one-third of the country’s uninsured don’t plan on getting insurance.

On Monday, Bankrate insurance analyst Doug Whiteman explained to WTOP’s Veronica Robinson that “it seems that there is a big lack of information among people who would stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act,” including subsidies for insurance. Fewer than half the uninsured were even aware of the deadline, according to the survey.

You can get the information on subsidies from your state exchange — D.C. and Maryland have their own — or on healthcare.gov if your state doesn’t have its own exchange, such as Virginia. Bankrate.com has an online calculator so you can figure out your situation too, Whiteman says.

The Affordable Care Act was, and still is, politically controversial, with House Republicans recently voting to repeal it for the 51st time. Whiteman says that 17 percent of the people who don’t plan on getting insurance, including 58 percent of those without insurance making between $50,000 and $75,000, say they oppose the Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama has been spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act and the deadline, most dramatically in a mock video interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis that went viral last week. But Whiteman says the president may be missing the real target audience.

“I think a lot of these messages have been geared towards younger people, and I think the message might have been lost on Americans [who are] slightly older, maybe lower-income people.”

But Whiteman says he still finds the numbers surprising.

“We find it kind of shocking that so many people in the group that’s really the prime target of the Affordable Care Act — uninsured Americans — still don’t know very much about it.”

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