Kaiser released their Obamacare tracking poll last week (topline here). It said that Obamacare is going to be overwhelmingly popular. Well, the poll said that it’s currently unpopular, and only 15% of people think Obamacare will make their health care more affordable.
Like it or not, in a year it’s going to make health care more affordable for around 3/4 of the population, in very noticeable ways. According to this poll, the households who benefit will then support the law.
Ezra Klein wrote a good post titled Obamacare’s most popular provisions are its least well known, but he doesn’t note that these provisions all go into effect in 2014. They’ll become known then! And they’ll remain popular.*
Obamacare achieves universal coverage through “Mandate-Regulate-Subsidize”.
Mandate: You have to get insurance.
Regulate: The insurance has to meet coverage expectations.
Subsidize: You get a ton of money to buy insurance.
Around 70% of respondents are familiar with the parts of the law that have already happened, the mandate and some regulations. We should assume that recognition will jump (from its current 55%) when the subsidies kick in next year.
The individual mandate (a $95 fine) is purely psychological. As such, it has already happened: we all know that we have to get insurance next year.
Nobody will qualify for the actual tax penalty–you’d have to be offered insurance by your employer and turn it down–and only a narrow band of single people earning around $22K do that.**
The reason to have a mandate is to force people to go to the Exchange, where they’ll discover they’re getting a huge quantity of money. We already know the prices, after all:
Obamacare guarantees that your insurance will cover certain procedures, and at certain costs. For example, it guarantees maternity coverage. Famously, it guarantees coverage for contraceptives at no out-of-pocket costs.***
Obamacare is getting the credit for coverage improvements among Democratic demographics. At the top of the responses to “how have you benefited from the health law?” are “my birth control is now free” and “I’m now on my parents’ insurance”.
Pre-existing condition coverage, kicking in next January, is the time-bomb for Republicans. 57% of respondents have a household member with a pre-existing condition. When they get new benefits next year, they’re going to notice! But only 53% of respondents believe that Obamacare does this.
And when they get benefits for their asthma inhaler and anti-anxiety medication, they’ll feel a lot better about what Obamacare does to their medical costs.
Obamacare is a law that gives you thousands of dollars with which to buy insurance. But only 62% of people know that.
Guess what? In a year, you’re going to have to go to the Exchange, where a smiling Kathleen Sebelius will give you thousands of dollars. And 1 in 3 uninsured Ohioans will be Medicaid-eligible.
But wait, you say. The Ohio House would rather lose a billion dollars in order to make a meaningless gesture to oppose birth control. Won’t that mean that lower-income people won’t like Obamacare?
Not when a somber Kathleen Sebelius tells them that Ohio Republicans took away their health insurance, then redirects them to a site to update their voter registration.
And this is why Republican governors really should have set up their own exchanges.
* Notwithstanding the existence of a media apparatus that does nothing but lie to elderly people about Obamacare. After all, seniors have been getting rebate checks from Obamacare since 2010, and three times as many people say they’ve been hurt by death panels than say they’ve gotten the check.
** Of course, we need to fix the subsidy for that band of people. Single full-time workers earning around $11/hr get less value from their employer coverage than they would from the exchange.
*** 7% of respondents said they support the law mainly due to birth control coverage, while 1% oppose it because it takes away their freedom of religion. That is a giant, giant fail for social conservatives.