Polls: Americans Remain Divided or Uninformed on Obamacare

Published July 12, 2013

As government bureaucrats, community groups, and supporters gear up for the publicity efforts that will surround this fall’s open enrollment for the health insurance exchanges created under President Obama’s health care law, much of the public remains confused about the status of the health care law, according to the latest polling. And their biggest concern isn’t insurance coverage or the quality of care they receive, but rather their premium costs.

According to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released at the end of April by the Kaiser Family Foundation, “four in ten Americans (42%) are unaware that the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land.” This includes “12 percent who believe the law has been repealed by Congress, 7 percent who believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court and 23 percent who say they don’t know enough to say what the status of the law is,” according to the poll report.

In terms of the law’s political future, just over half of Americans (53 percent) continue to say they support efforts by opponents to change or repeal the law.

Concerned About Cost, Not Coverage

The Morning Consult, a prominent health care policy newsletter edited by Michael Ramlet, released a survey which found that although many voters maintain they are mostly content with their healthcare benefits, most agreed costs are a larger problem than the number of people uninsured.

Although 58 percent of respondents said the biggest issue with the healthcare system is that it is too costly, 60 percent said they are content with the cost of their coverage. The survey also showed public opinion on Obamacare is at its second-lowest rating in the past two years, with just 35 percent of U.S. adults in favor.

“You can analyze the data in these polls; however, it is very difficult to make projections about 2014 after more of the Affordable Care Act is implemented,” said Ramlet. “How does it impact different types of people, including the uninsured, those with preexisting conditions, and those who are currently insured by their employer, and where are these people getting their care?”

If a large percentage of the population is unaware Obama’s law even remains on the books, they are unlikely to be prepared for the many ways it is going to impact them, Ramlet notes.

“Ultimately, many people will not understand how Obamacare will influence them until it has already affected their finances or lifestyles,” Ramlet said. “People are going to find out when they can see it and feel it.”