Most Americans View Access to Health Care as a Moral Issue...

But many still don't like Obamacare, five years after the law took effect, HealthDay/Harris Poll finds

08:00 AM EDT Sep 8, 2015 Rating
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Most Americans View Access to Health Care as a Moral Issue...

HealthDay News -- An overwhelming majority of Americans believes that access to health care is a moral issue, and that the United States should be able to afford universal health care if other developed nations can do the same.

But after that, Americans are still deeply divided over many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than five years after President Barack Obama signed the controversial health-reform legislation into law, a new HealthDay/Harris Poll found.

"Many supporters of the ACA believed that it would become more popular -- like Medicare and Medicaid -- when it enabled many more people who previously did not have health insurance to get it. That has not happened," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus of The Harris Poll.

The law, championed by Obama and often called Obamacare, continues to be popular with most Democrats and unpopular with most Republicans.

"But there is a remarkable consensus, regardless of party affiliation, that ensuring that sick people get the care they need is a moral issue," Taylor added.

The poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between Aug. 12-17 among 2,212 adults aged 18 and older.

The complexity of the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. health care system likely explains much of the public's divide over the law, Taylor said.

"Health care policy is complicated, which helps to explain why many people react positively to apparently contradictory policy positions," Taylor said. "One is reminded of H.L. Mencken's comment that 'for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.'"

For starters, public opinion regarding Obamacare remains as polarized as ever, with 33 percent of adults wanting to repeal it, 30 percent wanting to keep some parts of it and change others, and 26 percent wanting to keep it as is, the poll found.

These attitudes have barely budged since the law was passed. The biggest change has been an increase from 21 percent to 30 percent in those who want to keep some parts of the law and change others.

On the other hand, a substantial 49 percent of the public supports the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June that insurance subsidies provided under the ACA are legal, although much of that support comes from Democrats. About 28 percent of the public opposes that decision, and 22 percent are undecided.

An estimated 16.9 million people have gained health insurance coverage since Obamacare took effect, but not all of them gained coverage due to the law.

The poll also found that a 63 percent to 21 percent majority favors a universal health care system -- by party affiliation the breakdown is 33 percent Republican, 87 percent Democrat and 61 percent independent. And a 76 percent to 24 percent majority also agrees that since most other advanced countries can afford to provide universal health insurance, so could this country.

In addition, an overwhelming 84 percent to 16 percent majority believes that having a system that ensures that sick people get the care they need is a moral issue. That includes 75 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of Democrats.

But, 52 percent of Americans think it's an individual's personal responsibility to figure out how to obtain health insurance. And exactly half -- 50 percent -- say that providing a system of universal coverage so everyone has health insurance would cost too much.

For the most part, those numbers provide hope for supporters of health care reform that, as the Affordable Care Act continues onward, more people will rally to it, said Rachel Klein, director of organizational strategy for the health care advocacy group Families USA.

"Americans really believe people should be able to get health care when they need it, and that's what the Affordable Care Act is enabling to happen," Klein said. "We're still in the early days of the Affordable Care Act, and I think things will become clearer as more people are impacted by the provisions of the act."

But Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the free-market National Center for Policy Analysis, argues that the conflicting views are a reflection of "the recognition that health care is expensive, and there are limits to what the nation can afford in terms of new entitlements."

And, Herrick added, "These views are also consistent with the idea of a health care safety net that provides a minimal level of coverage, but affords most people the option to spend more if they want to. Programs like Medicaid are an example. By all measures, Medicaid is inferior to private coverage. Yet, the program has significant support -- even among Republicans."

Attitudes about the Affordable Care Act, and what kind of health care system the country should have, remain highly polarized by party. For example:

 

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman emeritus, The Harris Poll; Rachel Klein, director of organizational strategy, Families USA, Washington, D.C.; Devon Herrick, senior fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas; Aug. 12-17, 2015,HealthDay/Harris Poll

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

 

More information

For more on the Affordable Care Act, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

 

TABLE 1a

FAVOR REPEALING OR KEEPING REFORM BILL - TRENDED

“Thinking about the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health care reform that was signed into law by President Obama, do you think that the law should...?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

December 2010

February 2011

October 2012

February 2015

August 2015

%

%

%

%

%

Remain in Place

22

22

27

26

26

Be Repealed

28

27

31

30

33

Have Some Parts Changed

21

24

22

28

30

Not Sure

39

27

19

17

11

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 1b

FAVOR REPEALING OR KEEPING REFORM BILL

By Political Party and Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

“Thinking about the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health care reform that was signed into law by President Obama, do you think that the law should...?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

 

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Favor

Oppose

%

%

%

%

%

%

Remain in Place

26

5

48

19

37

5

Be Repealed

33

65

10

32

19

76

Have Some Parts Changed

30

24

32

36

35

17

Not Sure

11

6

10

12

10

2

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH SUPREME COURT DECISION ON SUBSIDIES

“The Supreme Court recently decided that people who receive subsidies (i.e., the government pays part of the cost) to help them pay for health insurance bought through the federal government exchange should continue to receive them.

Do you agree or disagree with this decision?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

 

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Favor

Oppose

%

%

%

%

%

%

Agree with the Supreme Court’s decision

49

22

73

46

66

16

Disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision

28

54

11

30

16

69

Not Sure

22

23

17

24

18

15

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3a

HEALTHCARE SHOULD BE ENTITLEMENT OR A PRODUCT/SERVICE – TRENDED

“Do you think public policy should treat healthcare as an entitlement or like a product or service?

When we say entitlement, we mean as in education, police and fire protection and highways, which are funded by taxes that everyone pays. By product or service, we mean as in cars, a house, clothes, where each person gets what they can afford and want to pay for.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

2008

2010

2012

2015

%

%

%

%

Healthcare should be an entitlement

50

47

48

44

Healthcare should be a product or service

34

41

33

42

Not sure

16

13

19

14

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 3b

HEALTHCARE SHOULD BE ENTITLEMENT OR A PRODUCT/SERVICE

“Do you think public policy should treat healthcare as an entitlement or like a product or service?

When we say entitlement, we mean as in education, police and fire protection and highways, which are funded by taxes that everyone pays. By product or service, we mean as in cars, a house, clothes, where each person gets what they can afford and want to pay for.”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

 

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Favor

Oppose

%

%

%

%

%

%

Healthcare should be an entitlement

44

19

65

38

63

8

Healthcare should be a product or service

42

68

22

47

26

83

Not sure

14

13

13

14

11

9

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 4

FAVOR OR OPPOSE UNVERSAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

“Would you favor or oppose The United States having a universal health care system so that everyone had affordable access to medical care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

Favor

63

33

87

61

Oppose

21

46

5

21

Not sure

15

29

8

18

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 


TABLE 5a

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH HEALTHCARE STATEMENTS

Grid Summary

“Would you favor or oppose The United States having a universal health care system so that everyone had affordable access to medical care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Agree (NET)

Strongly Agree

Somewhat Agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

Having a system that ensures that sick people get the care they need is a moral issue.

84

45

39

16

11

5

As most other advanced countries can afford to have universal health insurance for everyone, so could the United States.

76

48

29

24

12

11

It should be everybody’s personal responsibility to figure out how to get their health insurance, not the government’s responsibility.

52

22

30

48

26

22

Having a system of universal coverage, so that everyone has health insurance, would cost too much.

50

23

26

50

31

19

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 


TABLE 5b

AGREE/DISAGREE WITH HEALTHCARE STATEMENTS

Summary of “Agree (NET)”

By Political Party and Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

“Would you favor or oppose The United States having a universal health care system so that everyone had affordable access to medical care?”

Base: U.S. Adults

 

Total

Political Party

Opinion on Universal Healthcare System

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

Favor

Oppose

%

%

%

%

%

%

Having a system that ensures that sick people get the care they need is a moral issue.

84

75

91

82

91

62

As most other advanced countries can afford to have universal health insurance for everyone, so could the United States.

76

53

95

73

95

23

It should be everybody’s personal responsibility to figure out how to get their health insurance, not the government’s responsibility.

52

76

33

59

34

93

Having a system of universal coverage, so that everyone has health insurance, would cost too much.

50

70

31

56

32

89

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 


Methodology

This HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between August 12 and 17, 2015 among 2,212 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this HealthDay/Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

 

 

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