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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

October 11, 2013 at 8:08 PM

Poll: public feeling more love for health-care law

Home page of Washington's health insurance exchange website.

Homepage of Washington’s health insurance exchange website.

A week after the bumpy roll out of the new health-insurance exchanges, Americans are viewing the Affordable Care Act more favorably. A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC found that 38 percent of respondents supported the health- care overhaul, up from 31 percent in September and 34 percent in July.

The fraction of Americans opposed to Obamacare has been gradually ticking down from 49 percent in June to 43 percent this week.

Results from the poll, which has been ongoing for a few years, bounce around a lot so it’s hard to say if these trends will hold.

Blue-leaning Washington has responded more favorably to the changes in health-care law, with 45 percent approving of the changes while 42 percent of those surveyed were opposed, according to a September Elway Poll conducted for The  Seattle Times.

At the same time, a separate poll found that 40 percent of Americans thought the launch of the insurance exchanges has not gone well. In Washington and other states, many people trying to sign up for insurance when the marketplaces opened Oct. 1 found the websites weren’t working.

Website operators have largely fixed the problems here and elsewhere. By Oct. 7, Washington state officials reported that 9,452 people had enrolled in insurance plans or for Medicaid through Healthplanfinder.

In addition to the health-insurance exchanges that aim to provide coverage for millions of Americans who have gone without, the Affordable Care Act encompasses a suite of changes in U.S. health care. Other provisions include requirements that insurance pay for certain kinds of preventative care, ban companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems, and remove life-time limits on health-insurance claims.

One interesting point to note is the phrasing of the questions regarding the ACA. Washington’s Elway Poll presented the issue with rather neutral language, asking: “Overall, do you generally approve or disapprove of the Affordable Care Act?” while the WSJ/NBC poll asked: “Now as you may know, Barack Obama’s health care plan was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2010. From what you have heard about the new health care law, do you think it is a good idea or a bad idea?”

Since the question is asked the same way over time in the WSJ/NBC poll, the trend info is certainly legit. But given how negatively people feel about Obamacare as contrasted with the Affordable Care Act, despite the fact that they’re the same thing (see this entertaining spot from Jimmy Kimmel if you doubt this is true), one wonders how the national numbers might stack up if the pollster used different language.

Some 800 adults participated in the WSJ/NBC poll, which was conducted Oct. 7-9 and included land-line and cell-phone respondents. The poll has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Elway Poll, Washington Healthplanfinder


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