Most Americans haven’t heard much about the Supreme Court ruling that could result in the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, according to a poll released Tuesday. About seven in 10 say they’ve heard only a little or nothing at all about the case, King v. Burwell, which challenges a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.
The court is expected to decide within the next two weeks whether it is illegal for the government to provide subsidies to consumers in states that have not set up their own exchanges and instead rely on the federal health insurance marketplace, or HealthCare.gov.
Approximately 6.4 million Americans are receiving subsidies to help them pay for private insurance in the 34 states that are relying on the federal marketplace.
If the court rules against the government, those consumers would lose their subsidies, or about $1.7 billion a month, according to recently released government data.
When asked how Congress should respond if the court bars that financial assistance in federal marketplace states, 63 percent said Congress should pass a law to ensure people in all states are eligible for subsidies, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s tracking poll.
Majorities of Democrats (80 percent) and independents (66 percent) favor Congressional action; Republicans are divided with half (49 percent) saying Congress should not pass a law and somewhat fewer (38 percent) favoring action.
Among consumers in the potentially affected states, 55 percent said their state should create its own marketplace if the court rules in favor of the challengers. Majorities of Democrats and independents in these states support their state creating its own exchange, while Republicans in these states are divided.
Mollyann Brodie, who heads Kaiser’s polling operation, said public awareness about the case hasn’t really changed. “Right now, the public is not really aware of this, and they’re not thinking this has much to do with their lives,” she said.
But when they are given the information about what might happen, “their gut instinct is that it doesn’t make sense that residents in some states would get something different from residents in other states.”
Their initial reaction, she said, “is that someone should fix that.”
On the health law overall, the poll found the public remains closely divided, with 42 percent reporting an unfavorable view of the law and 39 percent reporting a favorable view, statistically unchanged from the poll in April. Most Republicans continue to hold unfavorable views, most Democrats hold favorable ones, and independents fall somewhere in the middle.
The poll was conducted from June 2 through 9, among a nationally representative random telephone sample of 1,200 adults. Researchers conducted interviews in English and Spanish, 480 by landline and 720 by cell phone. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.