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(03/23/11) -

One Year Later, More Americans Have Negative Views on Health Care Reform

At least half of respondents expect higher costs, fewer options and worse care as a result of the new legislation.

A year after President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, many Americans continue to question the effect of the new regulations in the country, a new Vision Critical / Angus Reid poll had found.

The online survey of a representative national sample of 1,018 American adults also shows that certain misconceptions about the reach of health care reform persist in the United States, and that a plurality of respondents wants the Supreme Court to eventually repeal the legislation.

Health Care Reform

Overall, two thirds of Americans (68%) rate the quality of health care that is provided in the United States as “very good” or “good.”

Respondents were split when President Obama signed the new health care legislation into law one year ago, with 43 per cent saying they supported the bill, and 42 per cent saying they opposed it. Now, support for the legislation stands at 38 per cent, and opposition at 45 per cent. The biggest drop in support comes from Independents (from 43% a year ago to 37% this month).

Almost half of Americans (46%) believe that, under this new legislation, the quality of health care in America will worsen, and three-in-five (59%) think the cost of health care will increase. Independents are closer to the critical views of Republicans on both of these topics.

Emotions

Respondents were asked to click up to four words to describe their feelings towards the new health care legislation. The words mentioned the most are displeasure (36%), fear (28%), disgust (27%) and optimism (26%). A majority of Republicans are both displeased and disgusted by the new legislation, while almost half of Democrats feel optimistic.

Effect

Six statements discussing the possible effect of the new health care legislations were tested on respondents. Only one of the positive statements—the notion that health care will now be provided to more Americans—was endorsed by a majority of respondents (60%).

Most respondents believe that the new regulations will make them pay more (60%), take away their options for coverage (54%),and make health care in America worse than it was two years ago (50%). Only a  third believe the new health care legislation will help them and their families be more healthy (33%) and provide them with access to care and treatments that they do not currently have access to (32%).

Misconceptions

Respondents were provided with six statements about the reach of the new health care legislation, and asked whether each one of them was true. Most respondents are aware that, under the new law, insurers will have to offer the same premium to all applicants of the same age, sex, and geographical location regardless of pre-existing conditions (69%) and that people who do not have health insurance which meets a nationally approved minimum standard will be required to pay a tax penalty (68%).

However, about three-in-ten Americans mistakenly believe that doctors can encourage the elderly to give up medical care because they are no longer working citizens who will be paying taxes (27%) and that a person with macular degeneration—a medical condition that affects the eyes—would not get treatment until a person loses the vision in one eye (30%). A majority of respondents (56%) erroneously assume that illegal immigrants now have the same access to coverage as every U.S. citizen and legal resident.

Future

Two-in-five respondents (44%) and 77 per cent of Republicans want to repeal the health care legislation, while three-in-ten Americans (29%) and 53 per cent of Democrats would leave it in place. Two-thirds of respondents (67%) agree with a federal judge who ruled earlier this year that part of the new health care legislation is unconstitutional because he found the government cannot make Americans purchase health insurance or penalize them if they choose not to.

About two-in-five Americans believe that the new health care legislation will ultimately be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (39%) and a slightly higher proportion (44%) would welcome this ruling.

Electronic Medical Records

Respondents are split on what the expected move to electronic medical records (EMR) in 2014 will have on health care. While most Americans expect the EMR systems to save time (69%) and reduce medical errors and improper prescriptions (54%), almost half think the systems will not properly protect the information of patients (49%) and will make health care more expensive (47%). Two-in-five respondents think the systems will invade the privacy of patients (45%) and improve their health (44%).

Veterans

Americans are more likely to brand the quality of health care that is provided to veterans in the United States as “bad” or “very bad” (45%) than “good” or “very good” (38%). One-in-four respondents (24%) think the quality of health care for veterans in America has worsened under the new health care legislation.

Analysis

Over the past year, the views of both Republicans and Independents on health care reform have remained remarkably stable. In a Vision Critical / Angus Reid survey conducted in March 2010, three-in-four Republicans and three-in-five Independents expected the new legislation to lead to higher costs. Also, fewer than 20 per cent of Republicans and Independents expected health care quality in America to improve. Those numbers have not shifted over the past 12 months.

Conversely, Democrats are beginning to question the benefits of health care reform. One year ago, 34 per cent of Democrats predicted that health care would be more expensive. This month, the proportion has risen by 12 points to 46 per cent. And while 48 per cent of Democrats expected an improvement in the quality of health care, the number has dwindled by 15 points to 33 per cent.

Republicans never truly embraced the concept of health care reform, and most Independents tended to lean towards skepticism. The main complexity shown in this survey is that the number of Democrats who remain convinced about the positive effects of the new legislation has shrunk markedly.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From March 16 to March 17, 2011, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 1,018 American adults who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of the United States. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.