Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Despite the facts, America has convinced itself Obamacare is a disaster

(The White House)

Most Americans don't think Obamacare hit its enrollment target, a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds.

Nearly six in 10 Americans (57 percent) said the law fell "short of expectations" on sign-ups. About a third thought that the law had either met or that it exceeded sign-up expectations. (The second option, by the way, is the right answer: 8 million people signed up for private coverage on the exchanges after budget forecasters had projected 7 million.)


This is an especially bizarre finding when you look at another question in the same poll of the same people.

Researchers asked participants how many people signed up for coverage. Forty-three percent of them thought that 8 million people signed up for private insurance coverage during open enrollment. Another 9 percent think that 13 million signed up.


In other words: a slight majority of Americans either accurately estimate or overestimate enrollment. This means there's some universe of people who think Obamacare hit 8 million enrollees — and also think it fell short of sign-up goals.

"It wasn't so much about knowing the number," says Liz Hamel, who directs the Kaiser Family Foundation's survey research. "It was whether that number registered as a success or not."

Political views influence estimates of success


Hamel says people who identified as Democrats were much more likely to estimate that Obamacare had met its enrollment target than those who were Republicans. But there was still lots of skepticism on both sides: 43 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans thought the health law had fallen short of the sign-up target.

In most Americans' minds, healthcare.gov is still a disaster

Another question in the Kaiser Family Foundation survey asked whether the botched rollout has essentially made Obamacare unworkable or if, after some early problems, the law is now working as intended.

Most people agreed with the first idea, despite the fact that Healthcare.gov has functioned decently well since December.

Obamacare_again"News about the problems with the exchanges was on a lot longer than any discussion of beating the enrollment goal," Hamel says. "It's possible that all the reports were still in the forefront of people's minds."

And its likely that most Americans are gauging their understanding of how well — or poorly — Obamacare is going from the news coverage. Most Americans already have health insurance, and aren't shopping on the exchanges for new policies. So even if the Obamacare experience improves, most people won't necessarily notice.

"So many people are not impacted by the law that they're more likely to respond to messages in the media than they are to evaluate their own experience," Hamel says. "That makes me think it will be a while before there's any shift in how people think the law is going."

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Vox username and password

As part of the new Vox launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Vox going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Vox username and password

As part of the new Vox launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Vox going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.