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Is Obamacare popular?

Most polls show Americans to be sharply divided on Obamacare, holding the same views they had when it passed.

obamacare reaper
Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Chris Maddaloni / CQ Roll Call

No. Most polls show that Americans are sharply divided on Obamacare, with more people viewing the law negatively than favorably. This has been true pretty much since the the law passed:

obamacare favorability Kaiser Family Foundation

Other polls show that about a third of Americans think that Congress should repeal Obamacare (and, among those people, about 12 percent think Congress should replace it with something else).

The most detested part of Obamacare is the individual mandate, a requirement that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance. Seventy percent of Americans, by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s estimate, don’t like this part of the health care law.

Why opinions are stuck: Democrats and Republicans think the law is doing different things

If you want to understand why the public remains so divided on Obamacare, it’s helpful to look at what they think the health-care law is doing.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans think more people have gotten health coverage through Obamacare, according to a recent Vox poll. All evidence we have suggests this is true: data from Gallup, theCommonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Urban Institute, RAND Corporation, and theKaiser Family Foundationall have similar findings — namely, that millions more people have insurance than before Obamacare’s insurance expansion.

But there’s a stark divide between parties: 74 percent of Democrats agree with the fact that Obamacare has increased health coverage, compared with only 49 percent of Republicans.

Conversely, 54 percent of the country thinks businesses are cutting back on their employees’ hours so they can dodge Obamacare’s employer mandate. (There is evidence of this happening in isolated cases, but not at a widespread level.) Seventy-four percent of Republicans think this is true, compared with 42 percent of Democrats.

A similar divide shows up on insurance costs: 70 percent of Republicans say costs are going up as a “direct result” of Obamacare, while only 33 percent of Democrats agree with this statement. The best evidence we have shows that Obamacare has had a negligible effect on insurance premiums for people who get insurance at work, and that premiums have actually grown slower in the individual market since the start of the insurance expansion.

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