Poll: Only 15% Say They Have Benefited from Obamacare

posted at 2:41 pm on February 29, 2016 by John Sexton

A poll conducted by National Public Radio and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds that only 15% of respondents believe they have been personally helped by Obamacare.

The poll is a broad look at Americans’ view of health care, both the quality and affordability of the care they receive but it also asked about the impact of Obamacare:

Americans have mixed feelings on the state- and personal-level effects of the Affordable Care Act. The proportion of U.S. adults who believe the law helped people in the state where they live approximately equals the proportion of people who believe national health reform hurt their fellow state residents. On a personal level, most Americans do not believe the law directly affected them. Among those who do, however, more believe the law directly hurt them than helped them.

To break this down a bit, a majority (56%) of respondents said Obamacare has neither helped nor hurt them, while 15% say it has helped and 25% believe the law has hurt them personally. Asked whether the law has helped or hurt people in their state responses were more evenly split with 35% saying it has helped while 27% say it has hurt. The poll didn’t ask respondents why they felt reform had hurt them but one possibility is the perceived rise in premiums and deductibles.

Among those adults who report being currently insured, more say the cost of their coverage has gone up in recent years than those who say their benefits have increased. Whereas more than two in five (45%) insured U.S. adults say their premiums have gone up in the past two years and more than one-third (35%) say their co-pays or deductibles have risen, about one in six (16%) say their benefits have increased (Figure 12). However, the majority of adults in the U.S. say their benefits, co-pays, deductibles and benefits have stayed about the same over the past two years.

This chart shows what is happening pretty clearly. An overwhelming majority think their benefits have stayed the same but nearly a third believe co-pays and deductibles are up and nearly half say premiums are up.

cost of insurance


Is it fair to blame Obamacare for increased costs? Yes and no. On one hand premiums have been rising at a significant rate long before Obamacare was on the horizon. On the other hand, Obamacare seems to have exacerbated the rise of co-pays and deductibles as insurers who are forced to offer identical coverage levels seek to economize in other areas. From the Fiscal Times:

Health care policy experts say insurers designed their plans with substantial rising deductibles and other cost-sharing measures as a way to encourage low and moderate income Americans who qualify for federal subsidies to try to hold down their medical costs. Moreover, advocates of this approach argue that even with the higher deductibles, enrollees nonetheless benefit from preventative services like mammograms and colonoscopies and other visits with doctors that are provided without out-of-pocket payments.

So the perception of Obamacare’s impact is decidedly mixed. More people believe it has harmed them personally than believe it has helped. However, when it comes to perceptions of the broader impact on people around them, slightly more believe it has helped than harmed.

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