OK, that headline at the Los Angeles Times might be an overstatement.
How about Americans like Obamacare?
Would you accept Americans like the Affordable Care Act?
While the LA Times maintains that the (honest) truth is: “The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey,” I would settle for the latter, “Americans like the Affordable Care Act.” This, in my opinion, is beginning to become clear as the health care exchange sites are being overwhelmed by those seeking to apply for health care insurance and, to a lesser extent, by the more favorable reaction on the street when “Obamacare” is replaced by the “Affordable Care Act.”
More about this later.
Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times answers your “How can that [the 88% in favor of Obamacare] be, when polls regularly show a plurality of respondents with an ‘unfavorable’ view of Obamacare?” Hiltzik points to a September Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, where the difference was 43% unfavorable to 39% favorable and says:
The answer, of course, is that most Americans have no idea what’s in the law. In the Kaiser survey, 57% said they didn’t have enough information to know how it would affect them. When they’re asked how they feel about specific provisions, however, they’re almost always thunderously in favor.
Hiltzik provides the following figures from a Kaiser March 2013 poll to support his premise:
Tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance: 88% in favor.
Closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole: 81% in favor.
Extension of dependent coverage to offspring up to age 26: 76% in favor.
Expanding Medicaid: 71% in favor.
Ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions: 66% in favor.
Employer mandate: 57% in favor.
Hiltzik does admit that the “one provision that always polls negatively is the individual mandate,” something that “unfortunately” is necessary to make the elimination of preexisting conditions fiscally possible because, “Without it, you’d bankrupt every health insurer in the country, because people wouldn’t enroll until they’re sick.”
The only possible reason for the alleged unpopularity of Obamacare, Hiltzik says, is “that the law’s opponents have succeeded brilliantly in marketing ‘Obamacare’ as something it’s not, and its defenders have failed miserably at communicating what it is.”
I would just note the mystery results of unscientific “polls” where people asked — sometimes the same people — “like the Affordable Care Act but hate Obamacare.” Even some more scientific polls have shown similar surprising trends.
However, if one is really honest and objective about this issue, these latter results should not be at all surprising, nor mysterious.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.