Six things Americans think they know about Obamacare

November 20, 2013

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week tapped into Americans' reactions to the new health-care law's troubled rollout over the past month, including Web site problems, plan cancellations and the future of the individual mandate. Here are six of the top findings  from the national survey of 1,006 adults.

1. Obamacare opposition is rising

Opposition to the Affordable Care Act spiked to a record high of 57 percent in the new poll, up eight points from last month when sentiment on the law was almost evenly divided. The sharp shift may indicate an increased fluidity in attitudes toward the law as people pay more attention to the implementation of health-insurance exchanges, with additional shifts likely riding on the law's success and failure. At the same time, strong partisan loyalties could bring support back to equilibrium -- a modest negative tilt against the law -- if the law's initial problems are resolved.

Post-ABC poll health reform support

2. Americans hate the individual insurance mandate

Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose the law's requirement that nearly all Americans get health insurance or pay a fine. Fully 53 percent oppose this "strongly." The finding resembles past surveys showing the individual mandate is deeply unpopular, while many of the law's other components receive broad support.


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Nov. 14-17, 2013

3. Even more say the mandate should be delayed due to Web site problems

Seventy-one percent say that given the problems people have had with the federal insurance exchange, the government should delay the requirement that individuals have health insurance, while 22 percent say this requirement should proceed on schedule. The Web site's troubles were underscored by a Gallup poll released Wednesday that found that most uninsured people who have used insurance exchange Web sites have had a negative experience.


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Nov. 14-17, 2013

4. But people like the employer insurance mandate

By 58 to 40 percent, more in the survey support than oppose requiring companies with 50 or more employees to provide health insurance to their employees or pay a fine. The employer mandate garners support from 85 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of independents but just 29 percent of Republicans; 69 percent of Republicans oppose the proposal.


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Nov. 14-17, 2013

5. Obama's a bad manager, but not a liar

Fully 56 percent of Americans say the hubbub over insurance cancellation notices -- despite Obama's pledge that people could keep insurance they like -- reflects a sign of mismanagement, rather than a normal start-up problem with a new system. The episode and others have resulted in remarkably negative ratings for Obama's role in implementation -- 63 percent disapprove of his performance in managing the health-care rollout. More broadly, 56 percent say Obama is not a good manager.

At the same time, most people don't detect intentional deception. A slim 52 percent majority says Obama told the American people what he believed to be true regarding keeping existing insurance policies, while 44 percent say he intentionally misled the public. This isn't a wide margin, to be sure, and the law's rollout does appear to have taken a toll on his basic credibility as a leader.


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Nov. 14-17, 2013

6. Can the law be salvaged?

Despite record opposition, Americans split down the middle at 49 percent on whether the government can recover from early problems or whether it is constitutionally unworkable. Passion runs high on this measure, with fully three-quarters of Americans feeling "strongly" that the government can recover or that it is doomed to fail. Partisans also line up solidly on either side, with more than eight in 10 Republicans saying the law is unworkable and a similar number of Democrats saying the government can recover.


Washington Post-ABC News poll, Nov. 14-17, 2013

 

Dig into all the Post-ABC poll results with interactive crosstabs and complete trends over time.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Nov. 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,006 adults, including interviews on landlines and with cellphone-only respondents. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.

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