SURVEY: Americans Still Uncertain About What Obamacare Does

Findings from a new Stanford University survey demonstrate that while Americans have a vague understanding of the health reform law’s specifics, most remain uncertain about what Obamacare’s specific provisions actually do.

The survey asked over 2,000 participants to decide whether 18 statements about Obamacare provisions were true or false, and rate how certain they felt about their decision. Although participants generally knew which twelve policies were part of the law and which six weren’t, they had high levels of uncertainty about whether their understanding of Obamacare was accurate. Respondents were able to confirm just one of the twelve actual Obamacare provisions — the portion of the health reform law that allows children to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 — with high certainty:

Respondents correctly identified five of the six false statements about Obamacare, but also with low levels of certainty. They were also largely off the mark on whether or not Obamacare mandates free health care for illegal immigrants — it does not. But accurate knowledge of the health law tended to be divided along partisan lines, with Democrats knowing more about the law than Independents and Independents knowing more than Republicans.

And survey respondents with correct information about Obamacare provisions were also far more likely to approve of the law, in keeping with past evidence on Americans’ attitudes toward health reform. Before the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health law this past summer, one poll showed that while 56 percent of Americans reported they disapproved of Obamacare as a whole, the majority actually supported its individual provisions. Although consistent misinformation campaigns about the health care reform law have successfully confused a large swath of the American population about Obamacare’s actual policies, this type of polling suggests that Americans will approve of the health reform law by increasing margins as they become better informed about what it actually does for them.