6 Years Later, Obamacare Still Divides America: Poll

Six years after the introduction of Obamacare, Americans are still divided over the controversial health reform law even though most tend to support many parts of the measure, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.

However, none of the current crop of presidential candidates appears to inspire much hope that they’ll properly handle health care policy if elected, the poll results show.

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay News — Six years after the introduction of Obamacare, Americans are still divided over the controversial health reform law even though most tend to support many parts of the measure, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.

However, none of the current crop of presidential candidates appears to inspire much hope that they’ll properly handle health care policy if elected, the poll results show.

Only 28 percent of U.S. adults have a “great deal” or “some confidence” that Donald Trump could successfully manage the nation’s health care policy, and only 30 percent feel the same way about Ted Cruz, who abandoned his campaign Tuesday night.

As for the Democratic candidates, about 44 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “some confidence” in Hillary Clinton, while Bernie Sanders — at 47 percent — inspires the most confidence.

“While attitudes about the ACA (Affordable Care Act) remain divided and highly polarized by party, several key elements of it continue to enjoy the support of most people — including the regulations relating to pre-existing conditions, the employer mandate and the expansion of Medicaid,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll. “However, the individual mandate is still very unpopular.”

Support for the Affordable Care Act remains about the same as it has been since President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010. About 23 percent of Americans want to keep it as it is, and another 30 percent would like to see the law kept but tweaked. About 33 percent call for repeal of the law.

But attitudes toward individual parts of the law vary greatly:

  • 74 percent, including 62 percent of Republicans, want to keep the ACA rule that requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • A more modest 51 percent favor keeping the ACA provision of subsidies to enable people with low incomes to buy insurance.
  • A similar 53 percent favor keeping the rule requiring employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide them with insurance.
  • Only 41 percent favor keeping the rule increasing the numbers of people eligible for Medicaid.
  • However, 64 percent would like to repeal the ACA’s “individual mandate,” which requires most people to have insurance or pay a penalty.

The amount of political opposition on the national level inspired by the Affordable Care Act likely has caused opinions to harden, even though the benefits of the law have proven popular, said Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, a nonprofit health care consumer advocacy group.

“The debate about the Affordable Care Act has been sufficiently contentious that often people have strong viewpoints even if they do not yet understand what is in the legislation,” Pollack said. “We have seen responses that support virtually all of the major provisions of the ACA, and people think those things are very valuable to them, but they have ambiguity over whether they support the ACA itself.”

The continued opposition to the individual mandate reflects the public’s general distaste for any mandate or additional tax, Pollack said.

“A lot of people are not fully aware of why the mandate is really essential in any program that expands [health insurance] coverage to people with pre-existing conditions,” he said. “Without the mandate, if there’s greater accessibility to coverage, a fair number of people may say, ‘I’m not going to pay for coverage until I get sick or have an accident.’ Were that to occur, premiums would skyrocket. I’m not sure many people have thought of that.”

Given that the poll results reflect more national confidence in Democrats than Republicans regarding health care policy, Pollack said the coming election might see the end of the longstanding Obamacare debate.

“If the November elections turn out to be such that Hillary Clinton becomes president, I think the contentiousness that has existed for quite a few years is going to diminish, and there won’t be any credible sense that the ACA should be or can be repealed,” he said.

The HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between April 15 and 19 among slightly more than 2,000 adults.

Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. “Propensity score weighting” was also used, to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

 

More information

For more on the Affordable Care Act, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus, The Harris Poll; Ron Pollack, founding executive director, Families USA, Washington, D.C.; April 15-19, 2016, HealthDay/Harris Poll

 

TABLE 1a

FAVOR REPEALING OR KEEPING REFORM BILL – TRENDED

“Thinking about the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health care reform that was signed into law by President Obama, do you think that the law should…?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

December 2010

February 2011

October 2012

February 2015

August 2015

April
2016

%

%

%

%

%

%

Remain in Place

22

22

27

26

26

23

Be Repealed

28

27

31

30

33

33

Have Some Parts Changed

21

24

22

28

30

30

Not Sure

39

27

19

17

11

15

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 1b

FAVOR REPEALING OR KEEPING REFORM BILL

By Political Party and Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

“Thinking about the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health care reform that was signed into law by President Obama, do you think that the law should…?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Remain in Place

23

5

41

19

Be Repealed

33

67

10

30

Have Some Parts Changed

30

20

32

36

Not Sure

15

8

16

15

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

FAVOR OR OPPOSE “SINGLE PAYER” SYSTEM COVERING EVERYONE, PAID FOR BY GOVERNMENT AND TAXES

“Would you favor or oppose a “single payer” health care system in which everyone would be covered and most of the cost would be paid by the government and funded by taxes?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Favor

40

18

56

41

Oppose

28

54

12

25

Not sure

33

28

32

34

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3

KEEP OR REPEAL ELEMENTS OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

“If some parts of the Affordable Care Act are repealed, would you like to keep or repeal each of the following?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Requiring insurance companies to accept anyone whether or not they had pre-existing conditions (e.g., they were sick or had some medical problem)

Keep

74

62

89

73

Repeal

16

25

5

16

Not sure

10

13

6

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing the numbers of low income people who are eligible for Medicaid

Keep

41

22

62

45

Repeal

35

57

11

31

Not sure

24

21

27

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

Providing subsidies to many low income people so that they could buy insurance

Keep

51

29

76

59

Repeal

30

48

8

24

Not sure

19

22

16

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requiring employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide them with health insurance or pay a penalty

Keep

53

39

77

52

Repeal

30

44

5

32

Not sure

17

17

18

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requiring people without health insurance to buy it or pay a penalty

Keep

22

17

32

21

Repeal

64

73

50

62

Not sure

15

11

18

17

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 4

CONFIDENCE IN LEADERS OF POLITICAL PARTIES TO HANDLE HEALTH CARE

“How much confidence, if any, do you have in the leaders of the two political parties to handle health care policy?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

%

The Republican Party 

A great deal

10

Some

19

Not much

23

Not at all

39

Not sure

9

The Democratic Party 

A great deal

18

Some

25

Not much

18

Not at all

31

Not sure

8

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 5

CONFIDENCE IN PARTIES’ CANDIDATES TO HANDLE HEALTH CARE

 “How much confidence, if any, do you have in each of the following to handle health care policy if they were elected president?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton

John Kasich

Ted Cruz

Donald Trump

%

%

%

%

%

A great deal

22

20

9

10

12

Some

25

24

26

20

16

Not much

14

14

21

18

16

Not at all

29

34

26

39

47

Not sure

11

8

18

13

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

Methodology

This HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between April 15 and 19, 2016 among 2,016 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this HealthDay/Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

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