If you have been to the doctor in the last couple years, you just might have run across that doctor who hates Obamacare -- so much that he or she tells you about it, unprompted.
Donald Trump has, and he mentioned it during his rambling announcement speech on Tuesday:
... Obamacare kicks in in 2016. Really big league. It is going to be amazingly destructive. Doctors are quitting. I have a friend who's a doctor, and he said to me the other day, "Donald, I never saw anything like it. I have more accountants than I have nurses. It's a disaster. My patients are beside themselves. They had a plan that was good. They have no plan now."
We don't doubt that Mr. Trump has a friend who is a doctor who said this. But this is an anecdote. And anecdotes are not quantitative -- at all.
And sure enough, for just about every doctor who feels the way Trump's friend does, there is another doctor who is pleased with the new health-care law.
According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, opinions among doctors when it comes to the Affordable Care Act look a lot like ... well ... opinions among all Americans. If your doctor is a Republican, chances are good (87 percent) that he or she doesn't like it. If your doctor is a Democrat, there's an equal chance (87 percent) he or she will think it's a good thing. Politically independent doctors tilt slightly against the law -- as the American public does -- by a 58-42 margin.
Add it all up, and 52 percent of doctors dislike the law, compared to 48 percent who view it favorably. That four-point gap is basically the same as the larger public's three-point gap, 42-39. (The survey of doctors was self-administered and did not include a no-opinion option, while the telephone survey of the general public let respondents volunteer no opinion, which about 10-20 percent generally do. Hence the higher numbers on both sides in the doctors survey.)
Also similar to the larger public, those who oppose the law strongly (26 percent) are more prevalent than those who support it strongly (13 percent). This is why you're more likely to run across doctors who feel like Trump's friend does -- and are willing to tell you about it -- than vice versa.
And by and large, doctors say the law has had very little effect on their ability to provide care.
About six in 10 say it has "stayed about the same," while 20 percent say it has gotten worse and 20 percent say it has gotten better. (Nurses and physician assistants feel about the same.)
There is some evidence, however, that doctors think Obamacare is hampering them personally. Thirty-six percent say it has had a negative impact on their practice, while 23 percent say it has helped.
Doctors are also more likely to say it has hurt rather than helped their ability to meet patient demand and their patients' cost of health care. They say, narrowly, that it has hurt the level of care their patients receive, 25-18. But half of doctors say it has had no impact. And most negative feelings are hardly close to majority status.
On the positive side, they say 48-24 that the law has improved access to insurance.
And if you look a little further, more say that expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is having a positive impact (36 percent) than a negative one (23 percent).
So do doctors love Obamacare? Definitely not. In fact, only 13 percent think it's great, and they are more likely to see the law as hurting their practice than helping it.
But on the whole, doctors don't feel much differently about it than the public as a whole does. Which means that if your doctor is ranting and raving about how terrible Obamacare is, your doctor is probably a Republican.
And/or Donald Trump's friend.
The Kaiser Family Foundation/Commonwealth Fund survey of physicians was conducted Jan. 5-March 30, 2015, with a random sample of 1,624 primary care physicians provided by SK&A, a health-care marketing firm that maintains a national database of physicians. The sample included doctors who spent at least 60 percent of their work time providing care to patients as primary care providers. The margin of sampling error for results among physicians is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Additional details on how the survey was conducted can be found here.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.