Poll: Americans confused by – but not angry over – new health law

Several weeks after President Obama signed health care reform legislation into law, a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll finds that the majority of those surveyed (55 percent) are confused about the law.

“People are struggling to understand how the law will affect them and their families and to separate fact from political spin,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the foundation.

Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundaiton president and CEO

The rancorous debate in Washington over health legislation is reflected in the overall split in public opinion about the law with 46 percent of those polled favoring the new law and 40 percent viewing it unfavorably.

Those divisions, however, belied how people of all political stripes felt about specific parts of the measure. Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents supported specific aspects of the measure. 

For example, 84 percent of Republicans, 91 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of independents supported tax credits to small businesses. Similarly large majorities favored making it more difficult for insurance companies to cancel health coverage when a subscriber becomes ill.

Other elements of the law that garnered broad supported included requiring health plans to provide preventative care without additional out of pocket expenses for members and allowing children to remain on their parents’ health plan until age 26.

And despite the heated rhetoric that suggests overwhelming anger at the passage of the health bill, the Kaiser poll found that 69 percent of those it surveyed said they were not angry. Sixteen percent said they were very angry and 13 percent said they were somewhat angry.

The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll was conducted from April 9 through April 14,  by phone interviews of 1,208 adults in a nationwide sample. The interviews were carried out in English or Spanish and 801 participants were reached on landlines with the remaining 407 reached on cell phones. The margin error for the poll was plus or minus 3 percentage points.