You’ve Heard the Politicians, Here’s What Americans Think About Obamacare

Obamacare_introWhat Republicans and Democrats lawmakers think about the healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, is well-established thanks to the ongoing debate over the controversial legislation. Republicans say that the “government takeover of healthcare” will drive up healthcare costs, increase insurance premiums, hurt the quality of healthcare, cause tax hikes, and blow up the deficit. Even Democrats have their own fears. Max Baucus — the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Finance Committee and a key architect of the healthcare reform law — told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at an April hearing that he is concerned that the implementation of the Obama administration’s signature healthcare law will be a “train wreck.” Of course, President Obama has campaigned vigorously in support of the legislation, which his administration says will bring better coverage and lower costs to Americans — a point that has been hotly debated.

Here is a look at what the American public knows about Obamacare, what their opinion of the Affordable Care Act is, and what they think about health insurance in general.

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As the United States prepares for the implementation of the major provisions of Obamacare, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a survey that examined views on health insurance more broadly among some key subgroups, including young adults, the uninsured, and those with preexisting conditions.

The poll found that the majority of Americans want and value health insurance; they just might not think the Affordable Care Act is the solution to the many problems that trouble the American healthcare system.

1) Many more Americans surveyed expressed concerns about the Affordable Care Act: The numbers show that 43 percent of respondents have a negative view of Obamacare, 35 percent have a positive view, and 23 percent remain undecided.

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2) The reason a notable percentage of respondents gave for their negative view of Obamacare was that its provisions will not reform the American healthcare system as much as they had hoped. However, 33 percent said they held an unfavorable view of the legislation because it goes too far.

Screen Shot 2013-06-21 at 2.32.49 PM3) Unsurprisingly, the term used to refer to the Affordable Care Act changes how respondents said they felt about the legislation.  Originally, the term “Obamacare” was used by the legislation’s critics. However, labeling the law as such now “influences the public’s reaction in a more nuanced way,” noted the study. While nearly a quarter of Americans say they do not have an opinion on the “health reform law,” the public is more opinionated when asked about “Obamacare.” Then, the number of respondents with no opinion drops to 11 percent, and the shares expressing both favorable and unfavorable views rise.

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4) However, most respondents expect to experience no impact from the law; rather, the uninsured and those with preexisting conditions are seen as the most likely to benefit. In fact, a plurality of Americans — 40 percent — believe their healthcare quality and costs will not change much, but the gap between the share saying their family will be worse off and the share who expect to be better off has grown in recent months.

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Here is a breakdown of how respondents believe those Americans without insurance will benefit:

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5) More Americans now believe the healthcare system will be worse rather than better:

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6) It has been argued over and over again that Obamacare will only succeed if the health insurance exchanges — the legislation’s key mandate — are a success. Despite the amount of money that has been spent on educating the American people about the provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing public debate about the legislation, just one in five respondents said they had heard of the insurance market places.

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