Perhaps Gallup’s result shouldn’t surprise, given the chronic unpopularity of ObamaCare. However, the trend lines began moving in this direction after support peaked for the a federal guarantee of health care in 2006, as Democrats took control of Congress for the first time in 12 years. As Barack Obama pushed his health-care overhaul, the legs had already been cut out from underneath the concept:
For the first time in Gallup trends since 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to 2009, a majority always felt the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all, though Americans’ views have become more divided in recent years.
Actually, Gallup started polling on this question in 2000, and the result then was 64/31 in support of the federal guarantee. This poll surveyed general-population adults, too, not registered or likely voters, a sample type that generally favors more liberal points of view.
Interestingly, it’s not because the population thinks health care has greatly improved, either. Two-thirds still say the health-care system has major problems or is in a crisis, a mark that has barely budged since 2002. Only 22% say they are satisfied with the cost of health care, a level that has also been remarkably steady over the same period. The overall impression of quality of health carehas improved, going from 53% in 2006 to 62% today, while the perception of insurance coverage has improved from 25% to 41% in the same time.
So what has changed? Republicans and right-leaning independents soured on the concept, but so did a few Democrats:
Republicans, including Republican-leaning independents, are mostly responsible for the drop since 2007 in Americans’ support for government ensuring universal health coverage. In 2007, 38% of Republicans thought the government should do so; now, 12% do. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners there has been a much smaller drop, from 81% saying the government should make sure all Americans are covered in 2007 to 71% now.
Some say that the end game for an ObamaCare failure will be a push for a government-run, single-payer system. Gallup warns politicians that most Americans won’t back them on that push:
One thing that has not changed is that Americans still widely prefer a system based on private insurance to one run by the government. Currently, 57% prefer a private system and 36% a government-run system, essentially the same as in 2010 and 2011. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the percentage of Americans in favor of a government-run system ranged from 32% to 41%.
One might be tempted to believe that the process that delivered ObamaCare might have been enough to make the federal-guarantee position a minority. Unfortunately, now that ObamaCare looks like it will get entrenched absent a reversal at the Supreme Court, that realization probably came too late.