Obamacare, the popular name for the Affordable Health Care Act, continues to find opposition from both individuals and states. The act is scheduled to take effect on October 1, 2013 for most of the country, but a USA Today/Pew Research poll finds that 53 percent of Americans polled oppose Obamacare. The numbers are even lower when one accounts for political parties.
Overall, just 13% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents approve of the law while 85% disapprove. Fewer than half of all Republicans and Republican leaners (43%) want elected officials who oppose the law to do what they can to make it fail; 37% say they should try to make it work as well as possible.
53% disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed; 42% approve. By an even wider margin, intensity favors the opposition; 41% of those surveyed strongly disapprove while just 26% strongly approve. Fifty-three percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of health care policy, an historic high.
The poll also shows that there is a great deal of confusion about the law, especially about whether or not health care exchanges are available in one’s state. As of September 6, 2013, 16 states have chosen not to participate in the health care exchange, and 7 more are leaning in that direction. 20 states are currently set to participate. Also, many people were also not aware that the law requires them to get health insurance if they currently are uninsured.
The Obama administration is also relying heavily on young adults participating in this act, but the recent poll shows that many (44 percent) aren’t aware that they will be required to have health insurance.
In addition, a number of large employeers have announced that they are dropping health care for their employees. Trader Joe’s, UPS, and the University of Virginia are three large employers that have decided to stop or alter their health care plans due to Obamacare.
According to Joseph Antos, one of the biggest issues Obamacare faces in selling itself to the public is the “paperwork gauntlet” that comes with the health care exchanges.
With so many official and unofficial helpers, it will be difficult to know whose advice to trust. The navigators, considered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to have a “vital role in helping consumers,” will only have 20 hours of training on the mechanics of applying for insurance with little or no emphasis on the different policies that are available. Many applicants are likely to enroll this fall in insurance plans they don’t understand, only to find out in January, when the coverage begins, that they made an expensive mistake.
In addition, sensitive personal information is at risk of being compromised, and there is no assurance that HHS can prevent it. Critical information, including social security numbers and details of employment, must be reported on the exchange application. Many applicants, unaware of the potential for fraud, will give that information to the person helping them complete the form.
No one should be surprised when widespread problems are reported during the first few weeks of exchange operation. Oregon announced that its online insurance exchange will not be made available to the public until at least the middle of October, giving the state more time to iron out problems. California has warned that its online enrollment process could be delayed. Other states are likely to follow suit when it becomes clear that computer systems are not ready for prime time.
The federal government, which will run exchanges in 34 states, faces similar problems. HHS has admitted that it is behind in testing its data systems, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned that exchanges may not be ready in all states by October.
Rep. Diane Black, Republican from Tennessee, believes that as time goes on, there will be even more opposition to the health care act:
Once this actually starts impacting people in their real lives, in their everyday life — ‘My rates are going up; my full-time job is becoming a part-time job because of Obamacare’ — once all of that starts happening, that’s a negative.”
Read more about the Pew Research Center’s poll here.