The big discussion in politics over the past eight years has been Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act. The law has been central to four congressional and two presidential elections. It has remade the US health insurance industry and expanded the role of the federal government into the private sector as nothing else has. Now a new poll shows that a third of Americans don’t even realize that the two terms mean the same thing.
The Morning Consult poll of 1,890 adults found that a total of 35 percent of respondents thought that the two terms referred to different laws or did not know if they were different. Seventeen percent thought that the terms were completely different and 18 percent were just totally clueless.
Further, 45 percent did not realize that the ACA would be repealed if Obamacare was repealed. This group includes 32 percent who did not know and 12 percent who thought that the ACA would remain in place if Obamacare was repealed. This would be a neat trick since, as most of us know, the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing.
The Medicaid expansion was particularly confusing. Almost 40 percent were not sure if repealing Obamacare and/or the ACA would affect Medicare. Sixteen percent thought that Medicare would be unaffected and 23 percent admitted that they had no idea.
The official name of the legislation passed by Barack Obama in 2010 is the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” This unwieldy name is often shortened to the “Affordable Care Act” and abbreviated “ACA.” It is even more often assigned the derisive nickname, “Obamacare.”
Part of the ACA was an expansion of Medicaid to Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 who earned less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The Supreme Court ruled that states could not be compelled to expand their Medicaid programs and 19 states declined to do so. A repeal of the ACA would mean that states that expanded their Medicaid programs would lose the federal funds that pay for the extra coverage.
Republicans scored best with 72 percent being aware that Obamacare and the ACA were one and the same, but only 47 percent knew about the effect of repeal on Medicaid and private insurance subsidies. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats realized that repeal would close the federal checkbook.
The groups that fared worst were 18-to-29-year-olds and people who earn less than $50,000 annually. This is ironic because outreach to these two groups was the primary goal of a $684 million ad campaign by the Obama Administration.
In particular, the “young invincibles” were needed in large numbers to offset the cost of enrolling large numbers of older and sicker Americans, who would need no encouragement to sign up for federally subsidized health insurance. The failure to convince the healthy 18-to-29-year-olds to pry open their wallets and purchase an expensive health insurance plan was a prime reason for Obamacare’s failure to contain costs and establish profitable marketplaces.
If it isn’t discouraging enough to realize that, after eight years of public debate and federal advertising, people still don’t know what the Affordable Care Act is, then think about this: These same people vote. Not only that, but it is the moderate, uninformed voters that actually decide elections since neither party has a natural majority.
Originally published on The Resurgent