Friday, March 22, 2013
The Public Disconnect About Obamacare
the Kaiser Foundation. It was conducted between March 5th and 10th of a nationwide random sample of 1,204 adults -- and has a margin of error of 3 points. There's lots of good information in the survey, and I recommend you read it if you're interested in how the public views the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) on its third birthday.
The most interesting part of the Kaiser survey for me can be understood by comparing the two charts above. It shows that the American people still don't really understand Obamacare, and what it will do. Note that the bottom chart shows that most people don't have a favorable opinion of Obamacare. It breaks down like this, when the law is considered as a whole:
But the top chart shows when people consider the components of Obamacare individually, they are in favor of all of them (with the exception of the individual mandate). I think most people are afraid of the individual mandate, because they think it will force them to purchase insurance that they cannot afford. They don't yet understand that only the richest Americans will be forced to buy insurance with no help from the government (and the likelihood is that those people already have private insurance, since they can easily afford it). The working class and most of the middle class will receive money from the government to purchase that insurance (on a sliding scale, with those making more money getting less help). Americans struggling to get by will not be financially hurt by the individual mandate.
Why then, does the American public seem to have such a disconnect with reality when it comes to Obamacare? A clear majority supports the individual components of Obamacare (and will undoubtably support the individual mandate when they understand it). Why does only 37% support the law when considered as a whole?
I believe there are two reasons. First, the government has done a poor job of explaining the law to the people. This is especially true of the individual mandate. I hope the people will better understand the law once it is fully implemented.
Second, the Republican Party (and their propaganda organ, Fox News) has spread, and is still spreading, a lot of outrageous lies about Obamacare. A perfect example of this happened this week, when Rep. Michele Bachmann stood on the floor of the House of Representatives and said that Obamacare "literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens". It's an outrageous and damnable lie, but that didn't keep her from saying it. And that is far from the only lie the GOP has told about Obamacare. Here are some of the misconceptions many people have from listening to these lies:
53% don't realize that the plan closes the Medicare drug "donut hole".
60% don't know that insurance companies must give customers a rebate if they spend too little on medical care and too much for administrative costs and profits.
48% don't know that small businesses will get tax credits to help them buy insurance.
47% don't know that insurance companies cannot deny insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
42% don't know that Obamacare creates health exchanges to help consumers buy insurance at a lower cost.
38% don't know about the subsidy assistance to offset costs of the individual mandate.
31% don't know that dependents can now stay on their parent's insurance longer.
44% believes Obamacare cuts Medicare benefits.
40% believes Obamacare established a government panel to make end-of-life decisions for those on Medicare.
47% believes undocumented immigrants will receive a subsidy to buy health insurance.
57% believes Obamacare contains a public option (like Medicare for all).
That's an awful lot of misinformation and outright lies being believed by far too many Americans.