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Record Numbers Of Americans Oppose Obamacare And Don’t Understand Health Insurance: Coincidence?

Submitted by on December 24, 2013 – 12:14 pm24 Comments

Two new surveys offer a dismal outlook on American health care and health care reform. A CNN poll found that 62% of Americans oppose Obamacare, up four points in just month. Meanwhile, a survey from Health Affairs finds that 60% of “the target market for health insurance exchanges” does not understand the basic concepts behind any health insurance.

According to CNN, support for the ACA also dropped, 5 points to 35%. Almost all of the change was in women, who shifted drastically against the law, while men’s support or opposition remained relatively unchanged. The survey found opposition from both sides of the political spectrum, though mostly from conservatives: 43% oppose the law for being too liberal, and 15% oppose it for being too conservative.

The results also showed the fallout from misunderstandings of President Obama‘s statement that “you like your health care plan, you keep it,” which was named Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year: 35% of respondents said they don’t think they would be able to see the same doctors under the law.

Also this week, health policy journal Health Affairs announced the results of a survey which found a majority of a “nationally representative panel” did not understand “key concepts related to health insurance.”

Among the population targeted by the exchanges, only 39.9 percent of respondents understood all nine key concepts: premiums, deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, maximum annual out-of-pocket spending limits, provider networks, covered services, annual limits on services, and noncovered or excluded services.

Additionally, the survey found that most respondents received their health care information from personal connections like friends, coworkers, and family, which could spread information gaps and provide apparent confirmation for misconceptions.

The survey added to a growing body of proof. A Carnegie Mellon survey from the summer found that only 14% of respondents understood similar basic health care concepts. Given a hypothetical health care situation, the respondents were often off by “thousands of dollars” when trying to estimate how much it would cost.

Health care and Obamacare are not the same thing; Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) is a series of reforms meant to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable health care. But confusion about one could affect the other. An author of the Carnegie Mellon study told NPR that “if people don’t understand the plan, then they won’t understand the incentives, and they’re not going to respond to the incentives.”

Much more informally, late night host Jimmy Kimmel found that some people don’t even know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing- though that doesn’t stop them from having strong opinions.


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