Why Americans Oppose The Individual Mandate

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll finds that Americans are still split on their support for the Affordable Care Act, “with a slightly higher share expressing an unfavorable (44 percent) rather than a favorable view (37 percent).” Half of all respondents still said they “prefer to either expand the law (31 percent) or leave it in its current form (19 percent), while slightly fewer would like the law repealed, either outright (22 percent) or repealed and replaced with a Republican‐backedalternative (18 percent).”

Interestingly, the survey also explores why so many — 67 percent — oppose the individual mandate: the most common reasons offered in their own words include that the government shouldn’t be able to force people to do something they don’t want to do (30 percent), that health insurance is too expensive (25 percent), and complaints about the fine for non‐compliance (22 percent):

That top reason sounds an awful lot like a GOP talking point and may say more about the public’s general weariness for larger government than its distaste for this particular provision. But once the requirement kicks in and Americans realize that the law offers a wide array of coverage options without any singular government mandated plan, their trepidation about paying a penalty for going uninsured will likely dissipate.

An earlier Kaiser poll found that people become more supportive of the mandate once they learn more about it. Support substantially grew, for instance, once voters are told that “without the mandate, people might wait until they are seriously ill to obtain coverage, driving up insurance costs for everyone.” Another pro-mandate argument tips the public even more in favor of the provision: “Sixty-one percent of those surveyed support it when told most Americans would still get their coverage through their employers and thus wouldn’t be affected by the mandate.”