Opposition to ObamaCare now 2:1 … among the uninsured

posted at 10:41 am on January 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Behold, your chart of the day. This comes from Kaiser Health News, which has regularly polled on health-related policies, and in particular the uninsured in relation to ObamaCare. Since 2011, the support and opposition have remained fairly close together, but now that ObamaCare has been implemented, a dramatic change has taken place — and one the White House and Democrats won’t like:

kaiser-poll-uninsured

KHN says, presumably without irony, that the reason for the sudden shift is unclear:

Uninsured Americans — the people that the Affordable Care Act was designed to most aid — are increasingly critical of the law as its key provisions kick in, a poll released Thursday finds.

This month’s tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47 percent of the uninsured said they hold unfavorable views of the law while 24 percent said they liked it. These negative views have increased since December, when 43 percent of the uninsured panned the law and 36 percent liked it. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Foundation.)

The poll did not pinpoint clear reasons for this drop, which comes in the first month that people could start using insurance purchased through the online marketplaces that are at the heart of the law. It did point out that more than half of people without insurance said the law hasn’t made a difference to them or their families. In addition, the pollsters noted that almost half of people without coverage were unaware the law includes subsidies to offset premium costs for people of low and moderate incomes.

Among all Americans, the sentiment was also negative, with 50 percent holding unfavorable views of the law and 34 percent supporting it. Views on the law have not been even since the end of 2012. Despite this, just 38 percent of the public wants the law to be repealed.

One reason could well be that there are more uninsured, and this time because of ObamaCare. The poll showed that “a quarter of Americans reported a change in their insurance status during the past six months,” and that half of those cited ObamaCare for the change. If that’s exactly even, then 12.5% of all Americans have seen their insurance change (for better or worse), which makes tens of millions impacted by those changes. If half of those were negative impacts — like losing current coverage — then we’re still talking about many more Americans than we presumed to have lost insurance or experienced skyrocketing premiums. And that would, indeed, account for the large shift in public opinion over the last quarter.

The graph suggests this interpretation, too — and a bit more. Opposition to ObamaCare among the uninsured (orange line) had been rising all year in 2013, but took a sharp spike upward when it rolled out at the beginning of October. Either the uninsured discovered that being forced into the system was not the panacea promised, or a whole lot more unhappy uninsured suddenly materialized in the survey pool — and probably both are true.

Here’s another interpretation that supports the first premise. Support (blue line) had remained more or less stagnant for a year prior to the rollout, which supposedly benefited this population most. It even remained flat in the first few weeks of the rollout. Suddenly, in December, support plunges just as people are being forced to meet the deadline for January 1 coverage. That appears to indicate that support was mostly theoretical, and the reality has changed a lot of minds even among those supposedly helped most by the law.

Either way, this is not a good sign for Democrats hoping to defend themselves by citing a few anecdotes of success. They’ll have to do better than this when they try it, too:

A few weeks ago, Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) invited a guest to President Obama’s State of the Union address: Lorita Katherine Waltz, a 49-year-old nurse from Prince George’s County who the congresswoman considers an Affordable Care Act “success story.”

But Waltz’s family did not become enrolled in a new insurance plan until Tuesday — the day of the president’s address — after weeks of trying and only with help from state leaders.

After Maryland launched its online health insurance marketplace Oct. 1, Waltz said that her husband tried to enroll but that theWeb site was not properly functioning and their status in the system was unclear. He would periodically try to log in without success, but given that the family has coverage until the end of January, Waltz said they were not worried.

On Tuesday morning, Waltz said she told Edwards’s office that she had not yet enrolled in a new health insurance plan. The office quickly put her in touch with a navigator, whom Waltz described as an official in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Office of Health Care Reform. Waltz said that she and her husband put the navigator on speaker phone and that they tackled the health exchange Web site together.

If that’s the smell of success, it’s no wonder that the uninsured aren’t attracted to it.


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