Most Americans Say Obamacare Doesn’t Affect Them

With open enrollment closed and the first year of the ACA’s coverage expansions underway, 60% of Americans say they have seen no direct personal effect of the law yet. Twenty-four percent of those who have felt an affect 24% say they have been hurt by it and 14% say they have been helped by the law. Even when controlling for other demographic factors, such as income, race/ethnicity, and insurance status, party identification remains a significant predictor of whether a person reports being helped or hurt by the law. Twenty six percent of Democrats say the law has helped them, and 37% Republicans say they were hurt by the ACA, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll.

Fourteen percent of those who say they have been hurt by the ACA say it has increased their health care costs, 3% say it made it harder for them to access care; and 2% say it has caused someone in their family to lose insurance. Five percent of those who say they’ve been helped by the law say it has allowed someone in their family to get or keep coverage; 4% say the law has made it easier for them to get needed care; and 3% say that it has lowered their health care costs.

Forty-five percent have an unfavorable view of the health care law, and 38% have a favorable view. This 7-percentage point gap has held fairly steady since March, but is smaller than the 14- to 16-point unfavorable tilt in opinion measured in Kaiser tracking polls from November through January following the botched rollout of the health insurance exchanges.

Sharp political polarization continues, with 64% of Democrats having a favorable opinion of the law and 75% of Republicans having an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-one percent of Americans say they know someone who was able to get health insurance because of the ACA; 23% know someone who lost their health insurance or lost their job; and 19% know someone who had their hours cut due to the law. A partisan gap exists here as well: 46% of Democrats say they know someone who gained coverage as a result of the law versus 19% of Republicans. Thirty-four percent of Republicans say they know someone who lost coverage (34% versus 15%) or had a job-related affect (34% versus 10%).

Fifty-nine percent say they would prefer their representative in Congress work to improve the law while 34% want their representative to work to repeal the law and replace it with something else. Those who want improvements primarily want Congress to do more to make health care and insurance more affordable (20%), followed by increasing help for groups, such as seniors or the poor (11%) and expanding access and availability more generally (11%). The following are top responses to this question, “If you could ask your representative in Congress to work on one improvement to the health care law, what would it be?”
• Make health care/insurance more affordable 20%
• More help for groups (seniors, the poor, etc.) 11%
• Expand Access/ availability 11%
• Cover more/ services 5%
• Eliminate individual mandate/fines/penalties 3%
• Better communication/inform public/simplify 3%
• Improve equity/fairness 3%
• Change to a single-payer/universal health care system 3%
• Don’t know/ Refused to answer 24%

In the midst of primary battles in many states, the ACA is the subject of an abundance of campaign advertising. Even at this early stage, 51% of registered voters say they are tired of hearing Congressional candidates talk about the health care law and want them to focus more on other issues like jobs while 43% want them to continue debating the law.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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