The Supreme Court Health Care Ruling, Americans Doubt Government's Role

June 27, 2012, 12:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 6/23/2012) The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling on the Affordable Care Act Thursday, the last decision day of its current term. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, Americans are closely divided on both the law as a whole as well as on the more general question of whether it is the government’s responsibility to provide universal health coverage.

There is somewhat more support today for the notion that government has a responsibility to furnish health coverage than there was three months ago. Independents, college graduates, younger and older adults have all moved towards more support. However, those over 65 (most of whom receive Medicare coverage from the government) are still more likely to say government does not have the responsibility to make sure everyone has health insurance than to say it does.

More say they opposed the Affordable Act than favored it when it was being debated in Congress.

But of those who favored the Act, the vast majority are not perfectly content with it. 72% of those who say they favored passage of the Affordable Care Act would like to see it expanded; only 17% say they would like it to be kept the same. On the other hand, 82% of those who opposed the Act would like to see it repealed.

Overall, 29% of respondents would like to see the Act expanded, while an additional 11% would like to see it kept the same. 37% would like to see it repealed.

Despite the fairly large percentage of Americans who oppose the law as a whole, most Americans like its individual provisions:

  • 71% want insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions.
  • 65% would require insurance plans to provide a minimum set of benefits.
  • Six in ten support requiring companies to offer health care coverage and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.
  • 56% would increase Medicare payroll taxes on those with higher incomes.
  • 51% would eliminate the lifetime limit on benefits.
  • 47% would provide subsidies for families with incomes between $29,000 and $88,000 a year to help pay the cost of premiums.

Only the individual mandate receives majority opposition: 62% oppose requiring individuals without coverage to pay a penalty.

There is a continuing division on how Americans see the President on this issue, which nearly two-thirds describe as "very important." This week, 40% approve of how is handling the issue, while 50% disapprove.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association