Most Americans expect Obamacare to be repealed, but even many Republicans are wary of repeal without replacement
Americans of all political beliefs expect that the Trump Administration will repeal the Affordable Care Act, but there is a limit to the public’s willingness to lose it without replacement. There is also a perhaps unrealistic expectation of what health insurance should cost Americans. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, three in four Americans expect that Obamacare will be repealed. Two in three Democrats and nine in ten Republicans agree.
This is one Trump campaign promise Americans expect the Administration to keep. That’s not true for some of the rest: just one in four think that will be true when it comes to “most” campaign promises.
But there are possible public opinion pitfalls for repeal. By two to one, Americans believe the government has a role to play in making sure all Americans have access to affordable health insurance, though Republicans are less sure that should be the case. 41% of Republicans think government needs to provide access to health insurance for all, while 59% disagree. In general, Republicans are less interested in government activity overall: two thirds favor less government action and the lower taxes that would come with that reduced activity.
For Republicans, repealing Obamacare is job one: 22% name it as the first priority for Congress, ahead of other Trump campaign promises. But while Republicans overwhelmingly favor repealing Obamacare, the rest of the public isn’t so sure. Overall, nearly four in ten would repeal the law but just about as many would keep or expand it.
And when it comes to repeal itself, nearly half of Republicans and even more Democrats and independents would prefer waiting – as Donald Trump himself has proposed – until there is a plan in place to replace it.
What is clear from this poll is that Americans have limits on what they think is actually “affordable” when it comes to insurance premiums. About one in ten were unable to offer what they thought was an affordable premium, but the median premium suggested by those respondents who could was only $100 a month. Those with annual family incomes of $100,000 or more set their minimum at $150 per month. Those figures are lower than the current average individual payment. And if repeal of the ACA occurs, more expect their actual premium to go up than think it will go down.
While most Americans aren’t worried they will personally lose health insurance coverage with repeal (13% are very worried), just about half worry that someone they know will. And, as there was before the adoption of Obamacare, more than half Americans would like to see some sort of public health care option to compete with private plans. Republicans are closely divided on this.
The President-elect also promised to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and to have Mexico pay for it. That promise received strong support from his voters, though only mixed support from the public overall. As Trump prepares to take office, Americans divide fairly closely on building a wall to try and limit illegal immigration (Republicans overwhelmingly favor this approach). But support drops dramatically among this group if the U.S., and not Mexico, must pay for it.
However, a majority of Republicans would still favor the wall even if Mexico won’t pay for constructing it.
There is renewed optimism from Republicans on several measures, although most are still not sure the country is on the right track. Just 35% say that it is, though that is higher than the percentage of Republicans who typically said that throughout the Obama Administration. And in this week’s poll, the share of Democrats who think the country is on the right track has declined since the election, and is now 27%.
Republicans do look ahead to a better employment future. Six in ten believe there will be more jobs in six months than there are today. Democrats aren’t so sure.