Everyone from Hillary Clinton to the Chamber of Commerce has come out against Obamacare's Cadillac tax. A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation helps explain the political pile-on: Most Americans hate the idea of taxing expensive health benefits.
Sixty percent of Americans oppose taxes "on higher-cost employer-sponsored health plans," according to the Kaiser poll. What's more, it's way easier to sway public opinion against the Cadillac tax than it is to move people in favor. Kaiser did a version of this where it read positive or negative facts about the tax to its poll respondents, to see if their opinion flipped.
After hearing positive effects of the tax — that it "could help lower health-care costs" — opposition dropped to 55 percent. But after hearing negative facts, like how some people would need to pay more out of pocket, opposition rose to 75 percent.
The Cadillac tax was built to be unpopular
One big goal of the Cadillac tax is to make health insurance plans lousier — not to make them terrible, by any means, as these are the more expensive plans on the market right now. But its whole goal is to reduce the robustness of benefits that workers receive.
Companies would do this by asking workers to pay more and increase co-payments, for example, or deductibles. And this would near certainly force workers to be more judicious in the health care they use. If a copay jumps from $10 to $50, for example, it would likely cause patients to pause and think about whether they really need the given doctor visit. If patients have fewer unnecessary doctor visits, that ultimately lowers premiums and health-care costs for everyone.
The policy is having its intended effect of making health-care benefits less generous, and, unsurprisingly, many voters hate it. That's a big reason the campaign to repeal the Cadillac tax is quickly becoming a bipartisan juggernaut in Washington.