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Obamacare remains unpopular despite enrollment surge


By Paul Demko
Posted: April 29, 2014 - 12:01 am ET
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The late surge in enrollments in health plans sold on the insurance exchanges didn't translate into more popular support for Obamacare, but a waning number of Americans want Congress to scrap it, according to new polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Just 38% of respondents indicated a favorable opinion of the law in the latest tracking poll, while 46% expressed disapproval.

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However, a solid majority of respondents—58%—want Congress to work on improving the law, compared with 35% who favor repealing it entirely. Those findings mirror other recent polling results, suggesting that Americans are becoming less receptive to Republicans' persistent calls to eliminate the law.

The numbers have improved marginally since the disastrous rollout of the state and federal exchanges last fall. A Kaiser tracking poll conducted in November found that just 33% of respondents supported the law, while 49% held an unfavorable opinion of it.

But despite the Obama administration's celebratory announcement that 8 million people signed up for commercial plans during the open enrollment window—1 million more than originally projected by the Congressional Budget Office—the public remains unconvinced. Just 35% said they believe that enrollment met or exceeded the government's expectations, while 57% indicated that the numbers were lower than anticipated.

The Kaiser survey found broad support for the contraception coverage requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with 61% of respondents expressing support for it. The only demographic groups with less than a majority of respondents indicating support for the requirement were Republicans (37%) and those age 65 and older (45%). A lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Opinions of the ACA continue to vary starkly by political affiliation. Nearly 70% of Democrats surveyed indicated a favorable view of the law, compared to just 11% for Republicans. Independents mirrored the overall findings, with 37% supporting the law and 50% opposing it.

The top reason given by respondents who did not acquire health insurance coverage was that they couldn't afford it—more than a third cited the cost. Another 27% indicated either that they were unaware of the insurance mandate or that they didn't think it applied to them.

The April 15-21 Kaiser survey polled 1,504 adults nationwide. About 10% of the respondents indicated that they were uninsured. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko


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