Tuesday, August 05, 2014

More and More Americans Have Unfavorable Opinion of Obamacare and Say They Are Directly Hurt by It

from the Kaiser Family Foundation (kff.org/polling)

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 53% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the new healthcare law. This is the highest unfavorable response since the poll was first taken in April of 2010 just after the Affordable Care Act was passed.
After remaining steady for several months, the share of the public expressing an unfavorable view of the health care law rose to 53 percent in July, up eight percentage points since last month’s poll. This increase was offset by a decrease in the share who declined to offer an opinion on the law (11 percent, down from 16 percent in June), while the share who view the law favorably held fairly steady at 37 percent, similar to where it’s been since March.
It looks like the undecideds are breaking against the law. Also, Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans are liking the healthcare law less.

Some of the details

Among Democrats disapproval rose 6 points (from 19% in June to 25% in July).

Among Independents disapproval rose 6 points (from 53% in June to 59% in July).
Among Republicans disapproval rose 8 points (from 74% in June to 82% in July).

Among those making less than $40,000/yr disapproval rose 8 points (from 40% in June to 48% in July).

Among those making from $40,000 to $89,999 disapproval rose 12 points (from 47% in June to 59% in July).
Among those making $90,000 and up disapproval rose 6 points (from 50% in June to 56% in July).

Among Blacks disapproval rose 9 points (from 17% in June to 26% in July).

Among Hispanics disapproval rose 14 points (from 24% in June to 38% in July).
Among Whites disapproval rose 8 points (from 54% in June to 62% in July).

Among those insured under age 65 disapproval rose 6 points (from 45% in June to 51% in July).

Among those uninsured under age 65 disapproval rose 14 points (from 42% in June to 56% in July).

The rise in disapproval hinges on personal experience. Byron York gives the following snapshot:

15% directly helped (up from 14% in June)
28% directly hurt (up from 24% in June)
56% no impact (down from 60% in June)

York draws the conclusion that Obamacare is hurting more people by making them pay higher premiums than it helps by giving them better access to health care coverage. 
A majority of the people who said Obamacare has directly helped them said its prime benefit was greater access to health coverage and care. A majority of those who said Obamacare has directly hurt them said its main effect was to increase their health costs.
Overall, the numbers reflect Obamacare's design; it was intended to offer taxpayer-subsidized health coverage to a relatively small group of people (the roughly 15 percent of the population that had no health coverage) by imposing costs on the far larger group who had coverage and were satisfied with it. Given that, it's not surprising more people report a negative than positive Obamacare experience.
[emphasis added]
By contrast, Kaiser's big takeaway is that a majority still want Obamacare to be improved (60%) rather than repealed and replaced (35%). This divide has remained fairly stable despite rising disapproval of Obamacare.


MAX Redline said...

Ah, but the devil's in the details, TD - who gets to decide what "improved" actually means? After all, Nanny Pelosi said that redefining "full-time employment" down from 40 hours per week to 30 hours (29, actually) was an "improvement" because it "frees people to pursue their passions". "Repeal and replace", by contrast, leaves a lot less wiggle room.

It's unsurprising that Republicans and Independents continue to register increased disapproval; what is somewhat surprising is the 6% increase among Democratics, although I suspect that much of that is down to their black "base" finding out what was in the bill. I think that many Hispanics and whites lean more toward the Independent side than toward the Democratics.

T. D. said...

I'm thinking at some point the repeal numbers have to grow as negative experience numbers grow.

However, you're right that "improve" has a lot more leeway in which people can write in their own definition than "repeal and replace". It also begs the question of whether it is possible to improve Obamacare such that it won't be hurting more and more people. York's point about Obamacare's design (to help 15% and have the other 85% pay for that) seems to weigh against improvement.

Breck Seiniger said...

The basic question is if not Obama care what? The system was approaching the breaking point as more and more people were uninsured. One way or another the fork in the road was going to be reached. I am in favor of national health care, but it probably would have been better for Obama politically to let it fail and step into rescue it than to have been misperceived as the cause of the problem. When someone suggests repeal, I think they are dreaming unless there is a system in place to pick up the pieces

T. D. said...

It's an interesting theory, Breck, but U.S. Government statistics show its problems. The difference in the percentage of uncovered Americans a quarter of a century ago in 1987 (12.9%) and 2012 (15.4%) is a mere 2.5%. So, significantly more people haven't become uninsured.

In fact, almost the same percentage of people did not have health insurance coverage during the prosperous Clinton years from 1992 to 1999 (15.0% in both those bookend years) as in 2012 (15.4%).

And, of course, the percentage of people "directly hurt" by Obamacare (28%) is almost double the percentage of people without health insurance coverage in 2012 (15.4%) and those "directly helped" (15.0%) by Obamacare. So, you've hurt almost double the number of people that you have helped.

None of this factors in the percentage of people still without health insurance coverage (somewhere between 10 and 13%) even after the implementation of Obamacare. Only 5% of the 15% uninsured have been added to the insured column. Not a great victory even if it hadn't hurt 28% of the population.

You could probably get a 5% increase by offering small employers significant tax and subsidy incentives for offering health insurance to employees. And you wouldn't be messing with the health care insurance of everyone else. (As an aside, the percentage of people covered by employment based insurance has dropped 7% since 1987 so just bringing that part back would have done better than Obamacare has.)

The U.S. Census Bureau has a lot of data on the issue.