The Kaiser Family Foundation reports:
“* After taking a negative turn in October, the public’s overall
views on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) returned
to a more mixed status this month. Still, Americans remain somewhat
more likely to have an unfavorable view of the law (44%) than a
favorable one (37%). That is a narrower gap than the 51 percent
unfavorable/34 percent favorable split seen in October, when the share
of the public with a favorable view reached a low point in Kaiser polls.
Favorable views among Democrats, which dipped to 52 percent in
October, rebounded to 62 percent in November, while the large majority
of Republicans (78%) continue to have an unfavorable view of the law.
Independents, mirroring the public overall, tilt unfavorable (47% vs.
34%). The November Tracking Poll is available at http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/8259.cfm.
* The survey also finds that individual elements of the law are viewed
favorably by a majority of the public. The law’s most popular element,
viewed favorably by more than eight in ten (84%) and “very” favorably by
six in ten, is the requirement that health plans provide
easy-to-understand benefit summaries. Also extremely popular are
provisions that would award tax credits for small businesses (80%
favorable, including 45% very favorable) and provide subsidies to help
some individuals buy coverage (75% favorable, including 44% very
favorable), as well as the provision that would gradually close the
Medicare doughnut hole (74% favorable, including 46% very favorable) and
the “guaranteed issue” requirement that prohibits health plans from
denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions (67% favorable,
including 47% “very” favorable). Federal officials are finalizing
regulations that will govern the implementation of several of these
* Despite strongly partisan reaction to the law overall, many of its provisions are popular among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. The elements of the law with the highest levels of bipartisan support include requiring plans to publish easy-to-understand summaries (88% of Democrats, 87% of independents, and 76% of Republicans favorable), tax credits to small
businesses (88%, 77%, and 73%, respectively), and allowing individuals
to appeal their health plans’ decisions to an independent reviewer (82%,
70%, and 70%, respectively).
* Far and away the least popular element of the health reform law is the
individual mandate, the requirement that individuals obtain health
insurance or pay a fine. More than six in ten (63%) Americans view this
provision unfavorably, including more than four in ten (43%) who have a
“very” unfavorable view. Only among Democrats do a majority (53%)
register a favorable view of the individual mandate. Just 29 percent of
independents and 17 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of it.
More than a year and half after health reform was enacted, there is
much about the law that the public still does not know, including some
of its more popular elements. For example, about four in ten (42%) are
unaware of the law’s most popular provision, requiring health plans to
produce straightforward benefits summaries. The least well-known
provisions — eliminating cost-sharing for preventive services and the
medical loss ratio requirement, which fewer than four in ten recognize
as being included in the law — are each favored by at least six in ten
people, including a third who see each as “very” favorable. Other
provisions are better known. More than six in ten are aware that the
law includes an employer mandate, premium subsidies for individuals, tax
credits for small businesses, an individual mandate, and a
government-defined minimum benefits package.
* Substantial shares also incorrectly believe the law does two specific
things that it does not. For instance, more than half (56%) think the
law includes a new government-run insurance plan to be offered along
with private plans (while another 13% don’t know if the law does this).
And a third (35%) think the law allows a government panel to make
decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare (with another
12% saying they don’t know). Those numbers have changed little in the
past year. In December 2010, 59 percent thought the law included a
government-run insurance plan option, and 40 percent thought it provided
for so-called “death panels.”
This Kaiser Health Tracking Poll was designed and analyzed by public opinion
researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation led by Mollyann Brodie,
Ph.D., including Liz Hamel, Sarah Cho, and Theresa Boston. The survey
was conducted November 10 through November 15, 2011, among a nationally
representative random sample of 1,209 adults ages 18 and older.
Telephone interviews conducted by landline (704) and cell phone (505,
including 285 who had no landline telephone) were carried out in English
and Spanish by Princeton Survey Research Associates. The margin of
sampling error for results based on the full sample is plus or minus 3
percentage points. For results based on subgroups, the margin of
sampling error may be higher. Note that sampling error is only one of
many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion
The full question wording and findings of the poll can be viewed online at http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/8259.cfm.
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health policy analysis, health
journalism and communication, is dedicated to filling the need for
trusted, independent information on the major health issues facing our
nation and its people. The Foundation is a non-profit private operating
foundation, based in Menlo Park, California.”