Obamacare’s many problems have convinced a majority of Americans to conclude that the health care law isn’t working as intended, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Tuesday.
The nonprofit, which has released a monthly tracking poll on the health care law since its passage in 2010, found that 57 percent of respondents believe that “there have been so many problems since the law’s rollout that it’s clear the law is not working as planned.” Just 38 percent believe that despite “early problems,” the law is now “basically working as intended.”
The poll found that 46 percent have unfavorable opinions of the health care law, while 38 percent view it favorably. There’s been no change in Obamacare’s favorability since last month, although a Washington Post-ABC poll also released Tuesday saw a five-point drop in approval of the health care law. (RELATED: Obama’s Support Reaches Record Low, Says Washington Post Poll)
Obamacare’s last-minute enrollment boost occurred largely before last month’s tracking poll, and still the public’s view on the health care law has stagnated. Critics have focused on Obamacare’s small dent in the uninsured population — if the rest of Obamacare goes as planned, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that 31 million Americans will remain uninsured in ten years.
The primary reason Americans are staying uninsured is still the cost of health care, Kaiser found. Health insurance is too expensive according to 39 percent of uninsured respondents. Twenty-two percent of respondents blamed job-related factors, such as recently losing a job or working for an employer that doesn’t offer insurance, for remaining uninsured.
Almost half the uninsured respondents expect to pay a fine this year for not purchasing health insurance.
The uninsured aren’t alone. According to the Washington Post-ABC poll Tuesday, 58 percent of Americans think the health care law is causing higher health care costs overall and 47 percent believe its making the health care system worse.
But while health insurance remains too expensive for millions of Americans, some media outlets used the poll’s results to argue for Obamacare’s unadulterated success. (RELATED: Ezra Klein’s vox salivates over Obamacare sign-ups)
“Despite the facts, America has convinced itself Obamacare is a disaster,” writes Vox’s Sarah Kliff.
“Nearly six in 10 Americans (57 percent) said the law fell “short of expectations” on sign-ups. About a third thought that the law had either met or that it exceeded sign-ups expectations. (The second option, by the way, is the right answer: 8 million people signed up for private coverage on the exchanges after budget forecasters had projected 7 million.)”
“This means there’s some universe of people who think Obamacare hit 8 million enrollees — and also think it fell short of sign-up goals,” Kliff concludes.
Vox fails to note that the public has received no data about how many Americans have purchased exchange plans. The Congressional Budget Office projected that 7 million Americans would purchase exchange coverage; while 8 million people have signed up for exchange insurance, the Obama administration has not released data on how many have paid their first premium, let alone how many have continued to pay after the first month.
White House press secretary Jay Carney has accepted experts’ estimate that 80-85 percent of sign ups will pay their premiums. While it’s possible that paying customers will surpass 7 million, so-called explanatory journalism outlet Vox declined to explain the payment issue at all.
The lingering question of how many sign-ups will pay is emphasized by the affordability problem for the uninsured; it’s possible that previously uninsured sign-ups will be less likely to pay their premiums than those who had already willingly paid for health insurance.
The latest estimate from RAND Corporation found that just 36 percent of sign-ups were previously uninsured.
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