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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Most Americans still unimpressed with Obamacare

A constant message from Republicans.
A message from Americans?

President Barack Obama celebrated when sign-ups for his health care law topped 8 million, far exceeding expectations after a slipshod launch. Most Americans, however, remain unimpressed.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.

The pattern illustrates why the health care law remains a favored target for Republicans seeking a Senate majority in the midterm elections.

The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.

But even that was diminished by another finding: More than one-third of those who said they or someone in their household tried to enroll, were ultimately unable to do so. For the White House, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the technical problems that paralyzed the website for weeks after it went live last fall.

The example of business owner Henry Kulik shows some of the cross-currents of public opinion.

Kulik is disabled as a result of Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that destroys the brain’s ability to control muscle movement. His family runs several stores that sell ice cream and other summer refreshments in the Philadelphia area.

Kulik says he doesn’t believe the federal government should require people to carry health insurance, as the law does. And he can understand worries about the cost to taxpayers. On the other hand, he’s been able to slash what his family pays for health insurance by purchasing coverage through the law’s new insurance markets and by taking advantage of tax credits to lower the premiums.

Before the law, his family was paying $2,400 a month. Now it’s several hundred dollars. And Kulik says the insurance for himself, his wife, and three children is comparable to what they had before.
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“I think there is a lot of misinformation,” he says.

Obama’s health care law offers subsidized private coverage to middle-class people who have no health plan on the job, and it expands Medicaid to pick up low-income uninsured adults. But last fall’s launch of new health insurance markets was paralyzed technical problems. The debacle contributed to the departure of health secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

After Congress approved the law in 2010, a political backlash over its Medicare cuts, tax increases and new regulations helped Republicans win the House. This fall the GOP is following a similar strategy with the Senate at stake.

“Republicans hold an advantage on this issue among people who feel strongly about it,” said Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health, who follows opinion trends on health care.

Still, just 17 percent of poll respondents said the law will be completely repealed. While that represents an increase of 5 percentage points from March, the poll found that 67 percent believe the health law will be implemented with changes, whether major or superficial.

In Walhalla, South Carolina, digital publisher Greg Freeman says he’s no big fan of the president. But now into his late 30s, Freeman thought it would be a good idea to get health insurance through the new law. It took several tries to navigate the federal enrollment website, but Freeman says he’s generally satisfied. His main complaint is that his new doctor is about an hour away, in a bigger town to the east.

“I can see if some of the kinks can be worked out this could be a very positive thing in the long run,” Freeman said. “We should be in a position to be healthiest country in the world.”

The poll found that sign-up success translated into higher approval for the health care law. Among those who succeeded in purchasing coverage, 51 percent back the law, compared with 30 percent among those who tried to sign up and weren’t successful.

In the tiny coastal Oregon town of Reedsport, locksmith Marvin Plunkett says he’s disappointed that public opinion about the law remains so negative. He was able to gain coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid program.

Plunkett recalled former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s discredited charge that the law would set up “death panels” to judge whether seniors should receive medical care. “The truth about it is pretty mundane,” he said. “But the lies are really exciting and emotional.”

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.


Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.


AP-GfK Poll:


Copyright  © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright  © 2014 The Associated Press  All Rights Reserved

4 thoughts on “Most Americans still unimpressed with Obamacare”

  1. The IRS should probably check out Henry Kulik’s records. They own Mom’s Italian Water Ice in Hatfield, PA and only accept cash. Something kooky must be going on for them to get subsidized coverage. Probably not politically correct to go after a disabled person but everyone needs to pay their fair share.

  2. I’m part of the group that thinks Obamacare was just another sell-out by politicians to the so called Health Ins. Industry and that it actually to some degree makes the situation worse , by enshrining a private / public approach which I oppose. We have NO need for a parasitic Health Ins. Industry, Obama could have by fiat expanded Medicare to everyone. He chose instead to turn millions over to the health Ins. Corps. that now essentially own their bodies and if they don’t pay them they get the Gov’t to fine you. People that approve of this approach compare it to car Ins. that your required to have if you own a car. One BIG difference , you don’t need any car Ins. if you don’t drive or don’t own a car? With this you don’t have that choice. Nobody should ever be forced to buy someone else’s private product by Gov’t mandate. It’s extortion let’s not try and dress it up as something else.

  3. And if they think they can win by threatening to take insurance coverage away from sick children who could never be covered before ACA, they are in for a big surprise: That kind of threat creates highly-motivated opponents. Not just people who oppose you for ideological reasons or party loyalty, but people who are willing to do anything to defeat you. They are qualitatively different, and not just numbers in polls or election results.

    If they actually succeeded in killing ACA, some tiny (but real) percentage of the parents of the resulting dead children would dedicate their lives to making those lawmaker’s live miserable and short. (Note: This is NOT a threat, but rather just an observation about human behavior.)

  4. The last time I checked, a majority of the population had a negative view of the ACA (Obamacare). However, that includes two groups: (1) Republicans (mostly) who don’t like the law, and (2) others who think the ACA doesn’t go far enough, and who favor a Canadian-type single payer system. (I’m in this second group)

    So far, Obamacare as signed up 8 million people, but the number of people without health insurance was 42 million !!

    If the Republicans think they can win elections solely by opposing Obamcare, without proposing anything better, they’d better think again.

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