ACA public opinion continues to improve, bit by bit

May 01, 2014, 10:03 AM GMT+0

Americans have an increasingly positive view of the Affordable Care Act, now that more Americans want to keep or expand the law than repeal it

For the first time since last September, Americans in the Economist/YouGov Poll are more likely to say they want the Affordable Care Act kept as is or expanded than to want to repeal it. This week, 40% support repeal, while 31% would expand Obamacare and 15% would keep it as is.

There is little change in the political views of supporters and opponents of the law: nearly half of independents would support repeal, as would 72% of Republicans (though last week, 80% of Republicans wanted to repeal the law).

There has also been a drop in the percentage of Americans calling the law a failure. This week, 40% say that. However, there is no equivalent rise in the number calling the ACA a success. What has happened instead is that this week more are saying that the law currently is somewhere in between: 20% say the law is an equally a success and a failure, up from 13% last week.

Despite these small improvements Obamacare is still more likely to be seen as a failure than as a success. But the positive trends (twice as many now as in November call the law a success; a drop of nearly a third in those saying the law is a failure) are probably the best news the Administration has received on Obamacare from the public in a long time (along with, of course, the higher-than-expected enrollments).

Independents and Democrats have shifted towards giving the law at least the benefit of the doubt in the last few weeks, although 48% of independents and 12% of Democrats believe the ACA is still more of a failure than a success. Three in four Republicans remain negative.

In addition, while more report having health care coverage today than say they were insured last year, perhaps reflecting the new signups from and the state website exchanges, most Americans say the quality of their health care hasn’t changed much, and only 12% say it has improved for the better. Young adults, and the less well-off, are slightly more likely to say the quality of their health care has improved (19% of those with family incomes under $40,000 a year say this, nearly four times the percentage of those with incomes over $100,000 who say that). And nearly as many believe their health coverage costs have increased as say they have remained the same. Only 8% report they are spending less today.

Opinion of the President’s management of health care also took a tick upwards in the last week, bouncing back from an all-time low in November. And while there is still more disapproval than approval, this is the first time the disapproval percentage has dropped below 50% since October.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.