A year after the troubled launch of healthcare.gov, many Americans still have a poor view of the Affordable Care Act.
Although opinions have changed in the last year, the movement has been glacial, and the best small success may be that in the last few months, the Economist/YouGov Poll finds more even-handedness when the public is asked whether the law, also known as Obamacare, should be kept or simply repealed.
The change took place earlier this year, after what appeared to be a devastating fall. The website failure may have increased the desire to repeal all of the ACA, and only after website fixes were made and enrollments began rising, did the support for repeal ebb. One year later, this week, 44% support repeal, just about the same percentage who would keep or expand the law. Opinions since April have varied along a relatively narrow band.
Democrats now are especially supportive. Three in four Democrats would expand the law or keep it as is, a higher share than felt that way last year. Republicans continue to be strongly in opposition: just over three-quarters of them would repeal the law.
Americans are somewhat more willing today than they were a year ago to give Obamacare some time before passing a final judgment. Half would now wait an additional year – or even several years – a larger share than were willing to wait that long last November. Then, 29% said they knew the outcome – about the same percentage who say that now.
Those with their minds made up are mostly negative. Half of Republicans, then and now, were ready to pass judgment before the law went into full effect.
Nearly one in five adults last November wanted to wait until we learned how many people had enrolled. And how many have, according to the public? About half think the rolls of the insured have gone up, though less than a third of Republicans agree. More Republicans, 34%, say the number insured has dropped.
The evaluation of the law – its overall success or failure – remains tilted towards the negative. Although opinions here have improved, changes have been small. This week, 48% call the law a failure, and just 26% see it as a success.
During the time HealthCare.gov was most active, Americans who went to the site improved their opinions bit by bit. While negative assessments always outnumbered positive ones, by March the gap between negative and positive assessments narrowed. But looking back now, Americans may find it easier to remember the bad: only a quarter of those who say they have visited the site say their experience was generally positive; nearly half describe it as a negative visit.
Full results can be found here.
Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.