According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s March tracking poll, nearly six in 10 U.S. residents feel they do not have enough information to understand the Affordable Care Act (ACA)and how it will affect them.
Unfamiliarity with the law is much higher among groups that are expected to benefit the most from the ACA. Sixty-seven percent of uninsured respondents under age 65 and 68% of respondents with annual household incomes under $40,000 said they have an inadequate understanding of the law.
Few respondents said they knew about their states’ decisions on two key components of the ACA: the creation of health insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid. Forty-eight percent of respondents have heard “nothing at all” about their state’s decision on the online insurance marketplaces, while 78% said they are not aware of their state’s position on the Medicaid expansion.
The poll also found:
- 88% of respondents said they support the idea of providing small businesses with tax credits to offset the cost of health insurance coverage, but just 52% indicated that they know the ACA provides such tax credits; and
- 74% of respondents are aware of the ACA’s individual mandate, but only 40% said they support the minimum coverage requirement.
The poll also found that misinformation about the ACA still is widespread, with:
- 57% of respondents stating incorrectly that the law includes a “public option;”
- 44% stating incorrectly that the law cuts Medicare benefits;
- 40% stating incorrectly that the law creates a federal “death panel” that will make decisions about end-of-life care;
- 33% stating incorrectly that the law will not close the Medicare drug prescription coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole;” and
- 27% stating incorrectly that the law will not raise the Medicare payroll tax for U.S. residents with higher incomes.
Meanwhile, 58% of respondents believe the national cost of health care has been increasing at a higher rate than normal in recent years, despite reports indicating a significant deceleration in the growth of health care spending. In terms of overall public opinion about the ACA, 40% hold an unfavorable view of the law and 37% a favorable view. Based on party affiliation, 58% of self-identified Democrats and 18% of self-identified Republicans said they support the law.