By Elise Viebeck - 02/26/14 12:01 AM EST
The vast majority of uninsured Americans do not know they must sign up for health insurance by March 31 or pay a fine, according to a new poll.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), in its monthly tracking survey, found that 76 percent of the uninsured are not aware of the looming sign-up deadline. Only 24 percent could name the date correctly.
The public has always had a weak grasp of ObamaCare's provisions, but the administration's tendency to shift deadlines has added to confusion about when patients must act to gain coverage.
Nearly two-thirds of the uninsured said they know only a little (37 percent) or nothing at all (26 percent) about the new marketplaces designed to make it easier to shop for health plans.
Perceptions of the Affordable Care Act have been trending negative among people without health insurance since February. Tuesday's poll found that 56 percent now view the law unfavorably while 22 percent view it favorably.
In general, KFF reported that overall opinions of healthcare reform are negative but have remained stable since November. Nearly half (47 percent) view the law unfavorably compared with 35 percent who hold a positive view.
At the same time, a majority said the Affordable Care Act should remain in place, either in its current form or with improvements (56 percent). Roughly one-third called for its repeal.
The survey also sought to uncover opinions on health plans with narrow versus broad provider networks. Critics have charged that the new marketplace plans seek lower costs by not covering an adequate number of mix of healthcare professionals.
This may be an issue with the wider public, roughly half of which said they'd prefer a plan that allow stem to see more doctors even if it costs more.
But it won't be as concerning to the uninsured or those on the individual health insurance market. A majority of these groups expressed a preference for lower costs, even if it means narrower provider networks.
The survey was conducted Feb. 11-17 of 1,501 adults. Its margin of error is 3 percent.