Short Takes On News & Events

Health Law Is A Tough Sell To Uninsured

By Jordan Rau

January 30th, 2014, 5:57 AM

Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.

This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.

Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.

Most Americans say they have not been personally affected by the law. However, 27 percent say they have had a negative experience, while 15 percent say they’ve had a positive one. People with negative views chalked it up most often to the high costs of health care and insurance.

The pollsters surmised these views did not reflect actual experiences with the new marketplaces that began operation on Jan. 1, because only a small portion of those eligible has enrolled in them so far. The poll also noted that twice as many people said they had seen news stories about people being harmed by the law as had seen stories about people being helped.

The survey reported that four in 10 uninsured people said they had tried to get coverage in the past six months, either through Medicaid, a private insurer or the new health care online marketplaces. Seventy percent of the uninsured said they viewed health coverage as important and necessary.

The survey found that a quarter of Americans reported a change in their insurance status during the past six months. Roughly half of them attributed it to the health law, and the others cited an unrelated reason. Among those who linked their new circumstances to the health law, the most common type of change was switching health plans. About even numbers said they had gained coverage as said they lost coverage.

The survey was conducted from Jan. 14 through Jan. 21 among 1,506 adults. The margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

jrau@kff.org

23 Responses to “Health Law Is A Tough Sell To Uninsured”

  1. DonN says:

    What we have with the ACA is yet another example of a large hybrid program which ends up somewhere in-between the former status quo and a truly forward-looking program. It may eventually simplify the byzantinian nature of our health care system – including the outrageous costs of it – but until we get to a single payer system we’ll continue to be wasting money and causing people to needlessly suffer.

  2. Jimbino says:

    There are several facts that seem always to escape the attention of commenters on Obamacare and health insurance in general.

    1. Health insurance is a religion; it is not health care. The Amish and the Mennonites don’t participate in the former but manage full access to the latter.

    2. Neither Medicare nor Obamacare is available to a fully insured Amerikan traveling or sojourning overseas, except on a limited basis.

    3. Since the taxpayer pays for about 50% of health expenditures in Amerika, the uninsured person treated in the emergency room has already paid for half his care. Indeed, the travesty is that those who don’t carry insurance bear the tremendous burden of the tax-deductibility of employer-provided care and also pay more for treatment if they do seek it.

    4. Obamacare does not serve patients; that would be called health care. Obamacare is an insurance scheme that favors the employed over the unemployed, the rich over the poor, women over men, old folks over the youth, the hypochondriac over the prudent consumer, and the sick over the healthy. It is nothing more than a socialist policy of wealth and income redistribution. The lucky ones are the Amish who are exempt.

    5. Many, if not most, folks who undergo bankruptcy because of burdensome health costs are insured.

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