Short Takes On News & Events

Public Can Be Swayed On Health Law’s Mandate, Survey Finds

By Jordan Rau

December 21st, 2011, 12:01 PM

The individual mandate is the Affordable Care Act’s least popular provision and lies at the heart of the legal challenge to the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. But a new poll finds that public opinion can be swayed by how the mandate’s implications are described.

In general, only 33 percent of Americans support the individual mandate, while 65 percent oppose it. Opposition swells to 74 percent after people are told the mandate is being challenged as unconstitutional, according this month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) Opposition spikes to 80 percent when people are told the mandate “could mean that some people would be required to buy health insurance that they find too expensive or did not want.”

But opinions change when poll respondents are told that without the mandate, people might wait until they are seriously ill to obtain coverage, driving up insurance costs for everyone. Forty-seven percent support the mandate after being told this, while 45 percent oppose it. A larger plurality (49 percent) backs the mandate when told that without it, insurers could refuse to cover sick people and when told people would be excused from having to buy insurance if the cost would “consume too large a share of their income.”

One pro-mandate argument tilts the public decisively in favor of  the individual mandate. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed support it when told most Americans would still get their coverage through their employers and thus wouldn’t be affected by the mandate.

Overall, the public remains ambivalent about the law, with 43 percent opposing it, 41 favoring it, and 17 percent undecided or refusing to answer. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percent, and it was conducted from December 8 through December 13 among 1,212 adults.

jrau@kff.org

5 Responses to “Public Can Be Swayed On Health Law’s Mandate, Survey Finds”

  1. Barbara says:

    So why hasn’t Obama and his team figured this out? Why aren’t they out there making this argument????

  2. Erik says:

    The stupid thing is, the leading GOP Presidential candidates had the idea regarding the individual mandate way before Obama ever got to Congress. NEWS FLASH: The individual mandate is a Republican idea! Mitt and Newt had the idea of individual mandates over ten years ago. Do yourself a favor and read what Newt and Mitt wrote and said about the individual mandate ten years ago. Both favored the idea. Mitt enacted it into law as Governor of Mass.

    Public can be swayed? Huh? The real problem is that Republicans in the Congress have only one motive in mind right now. They want to defeat Obama in 2012. They want to make Obama a one-term President. That’s it! That’s all they think about! After they get Obama out of the Oval Office, you’ll see an individual mandate fully supported by every Republican in Congress. Fact is, there’s only one answer to our health care system cost problem. Everyone must participate! Even moron’s like Republicans know that!

  3. Kimberley says:

    Gee, I bet you could affect the results of any poll by lying to the respondents when asking the questions! Being told that the mandate will not affect you because insurance can still be purchased through your employer may increase the public’s favor of the provision, but it is a lie. The mandate is affecting how employers buy coverage, what they are allowed to buy, what insurers are allowed to offer, and how much it costs. This is already happening as the employers and insurers work to meet the requirements that will “take affect” in 2014. You may still buy insurance through your employer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be affected. It’s too bad that both parties are more interested in “spinning” the public’s opinion than they are in running the country.

  4. Mel says:

    Erik is correct; ditto for the concept of the health insurance exchanges, which were first introduced by the same folks at the Heritage Foundation who are now leading the battle against them. Public and media memories are short, and the ease with which Republicans will switch positions 180 degrees is astonishing.

  5. Ron says:

    Kimberley is absolutely correct. Lying to people about the effects of the health care law certainly CAN persuade people. Mel and Erik are being disingenuous. Mitt Romney’s idea is for a state-based system and that IS constitutional. A federal system with a mandate is NOT constitutional. There is a difference and its important. If you don’t understand the difference, check the US Constitution. By the way, the lies Democrats told about the price of insurance going down if this plan was enacted have already been exposed. The waits for doctor visits will be much longer than now and the medical profession will be less appealing to people. Google doctor comments about Obamacare on the internet to see what they think. Higher demand, less supply = longer visits. As to FORCING people to pay for health care, that unconstitutional authority would lead to forcing us to pay for other things we don’t want or desire, which is a loss of freedom. Isn’t this supposed to be America? It’s not Amerika yet and most Americans want to keep it the land of the free. I could go on and on, but I have to work to pay the high taxes here.

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