From the outset, Obamacare’s architects have been possessed of the unshakable belief that if they could only properly acquaint the public with the many virtues of their initiative, the people would finally turn on to the law. Just one more presidential speech; one more Thanksgiving dinner-table push; one more Twitter campaign. Then America would love it.
It has never happened. A new poll from Gallup may help to show why, suggesting as it does that those who are familiar with Obamacare are much more likely to oppose it than those who are not. Among those unfamiliar with the law, 40 percent approve and 43 percent disapprove. Among those familiar with the law, however, 40 percent approve and 59 percent disapprove. It seems that the more you know, the less you like. Or, as Gallup puts it:
Those who are familiar with the healthcare law are significantly more likely to oppose it than those who are not familiar with it. Among those familiar with the law, net approval is -19 percentage points, slightly more negative than is the case for the overall population. Those who are unfamiliar with the law are evenly divided, with 41% approving and 43% disapproving.
Gallup qualifies this by noting that “these relationships do not necessarily mean acquaintance with the law leads one to become more negative, as the correlations most certainly reflect party differences in familiarity.” This is fair. It is difficult to tell what leads to what. Certainly, Republicans claim to be more familiar with the law than do Democrats, and this has a real effect on the outcome:
Regardless, there are two significant, indisputable warning signs in these results, and they have nothing to do with party politics: (1) Those who are least familiar with Obamacare are the very people that it needs to convince to sign up, and (2) The people it was supposed to help don’t seem to know much about it. Gallup observes rather bluntly that:
The new healthcare law’s success will rest at least partially on young Americans’ enrollment rates, given the need to have uninsured but healthy younger people sign up for insurance to help subsidize the cost of healthcare for those who are older and more likely to require benefits. These young people need to be familiar with the law if they can be expected to respond to its mandate requiring them to have insurance. There is clearly still work to be done on that front — with younger Americans significantly less acquainted with the law than those who are older.
The law, also known as Obamacare, is intended to benefit those with lower incomes, who are more likely to be uninsured than those with higher incomes. But at this time, lower-income Americans are less familiar with the law.
There’s trouble ahead.
The full results here.