Obamacare Has Lost the Uninsured

Obamacare has lost the uninsured.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News
poll released this week
asked uninsured individuals whether or
not they thought the law was a good idea. Just 24 percent said they
thought it was. In contrast, half the uninsured polled said they
thought it was a bad idea. As the Journal points out, that
represents an 11 point drop in support for the law amongst the
uninsured since September. The same poll also finds that 56 percent
of the uninsured believe the law will have a negative effect on the
U.S. health care system.

Let that sink in: What that means is that regardless of how bad
the old system—the system that for whatever reason left them
uninsured—was, a majority of people without health coverage now
think that Obamacare makes it worse. 

That’s how poorly the rollout of the health law is perceived to
have gone. The exact group the law was designed to help have
instead turned on the law. It’s never been particularly popular
with the wider public, but now even those who were supposed to be
beneficiaries are skeptical.

That’s more than a political problem. It’s a policy problem—a
threat to the law’s viability, especially when combined with other
recent poll numbers showing that young people, who are crucial to
the law’s coverage scheme, are rejecting the law as well. A Harvard
Institute of Politics Poll released earlier this month found that
56 percent of young adults age 18-29
don’t approve of the health law
. Only 29 percent of uninsured
young adults said they expected to enroll.

As the sharp declines of the last few months show, poll numbers
can always shift,  sometimes rapidly. But if these low numbers
persist, it represents a body blow for the law. It’s telling that
Americans are now so soured on Obamacare that a majority say they
would prefer to go back to the old system, flaws and all. As this
week’s Reason-Rupe poll found, 55 percent of Americans
now say they prefer
the old, pre-Obamacare health care

Numbers like those will help fuel efforts to repeal or otherwise
block the law, regardless of whether or not there’s a replacement.
They should also make Obamacare-friendly Democrats up for
reelection more than a little nervous.

When the health law passed back in 2010, the thinking amongst
many Democrats was that controversy around the overhaul would
eventually fade, and the law would become popular as people felt
its effects. Part of the thinking behind that argument was that the
American health system was already so bad that nothing could really
be worse. But nearly four years later, with the law’s health
exchanges launched, its various interim benefits in place, and its
biggest insurance market changes just weeks away from kicking in,
the verdict from the public is in: Obamacare isn’t just a bad
system. It’s a bad system that’s worse than the old bad system. And
at least for now, even the uninsured, the people who supposedly
stand to gain the most from the law, think so too.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/13/obamacare-has-lost-the-uninsured

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