Health care polling gone wild!

“I don’t know what’s in it, but I know I don’t like it!”

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new poll this week of public opinion regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare, if that’s your thing). Similar to Kevin Drum I’m just perusing the chart pack right now, and Sarah Kliff has a good summation here, but there are few notables I’d like to share.

As you can see, the favorable ratings have taken a dip from a relatively stable 11 month trend starting in October of last year. I’m not sure why the two ratings pushed apart nearly identically in October of this year. The trends are interesting, though, it’s ultimately highly speculative as to the exact reasons for such things. If you’re interested in particular poll aggregates they can be found here.

This is where things start to get really interesting. Only one quarter of those who view the ACA unfavorably do so only because of what they “know” (more on that later) about the law. That blue slice is what’s making headlines on some blogs, where 44% view the ACA unfavorably more because they don’t like the direction of the country, and because they don’t like what’s going on in Washington. Amazing. It makes me wonder if such factors would negatively influence any generic law that some people ‘liked’ and others ‘disliked.’

This is, I believe, one of the under-reported facets behind the polling of the ACA. You’ll notice that most organizations, especially those of a particular ideological persuasion, only ever state the unfavorable numbers. Rarely do I read the above question asked: What would you like to see Congress do when it comes to the health care law? Notice how the numbers flip compared to the favorable/unfavorable chart? That’s because a decent chunk of that unfavorable number comes from those who want to see health care reform go further than the ACA. The public opinion narrative commonly seen in the headlines is most definitely not coming from the above chart.

Slide 7 and 8 are interesting juxtapositions. It’s mildly surprising that majorities correctly identify elements like the small business tax credit, guaranteed issue, and rate reviews as present in the ACA. Why surprising? See below….

A majority believe that the ACA introduces a public option. It doesn’t. It was talked about briefly in the beginning, but the plug was pulled relatively quickly as a bargaining chip. The insurance companies didn’t want it, some Democrats were against it, etc. I wonder why they think it does include a public option? I’m sure it wouldn’t have anything to do with insistence that the ACA is a “government takeover of health care,” right? I swear that one line has kept some pundits in business and gotten some politicians the vote. The one glimmer of reasonability in this chart is that most don’t fall for the death panel nonsense. Of course, that’s discounting the 48% of Republicans who do believe the ACA allows a panel to decide when and how your loved one is going to go.

This is the last one I’ll make note of, considering that it’s been mentioned plenty of times. Almost all of the provisions of the ACA are popular by 50% or more, with the notable exception of the individual mandate.

One question I would love to see asked is something similar to slide 7 and 8 regarding the mandate. How many are aware that there are exceptions to the mandate? What do you know of the consequences of not complying with the mandate? My gut tells me that they would be as misinformed as those people I sometimes ask.


One response to “Health care polling gone wild!

  1. Pingback: Remembering the common goal of health care reform. | Punditocracy·

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