Majority Disapprove of Health Care Law; Believe Their Costs Will Rise and Quality Will Fall

A Majority of Young People Disapprove of the New Health Care Law

With the deadline to enroll in the president’s new health care law quickly approaching and a large effort underway by the administration and interest groups to encourage more young people to either enroll or not enroll in health coverage, we were interested in gaining a better understanding of young American’s views toward the new law.  To help better understand the messaging, we conducted a split sample asking respondents about approval, quality, cost, and how they were hearing about the law identifying it for n=1,024 respondents as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and for n=1,065 respondents as Obamacare.  While we did not find drastic differences between the two names there were some that existed and they are noted below.

Most significantly, when young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were asked if they approve or disapprove of the comprehensive health reform package that the president signed into law in 2010, a solid majority disapproved.  When the law was referred to as the Affordable Care Act, 39 percent of young Americans under 30 approved, 56 percent disapproved; and when the law was referred to as Obamacare, the numbers were nearly identical with 38 percent citing approval and 57 percent citing that they disapproved.  These findings mirror recent ABC News/Washington Post (November 14-17, 2013) polling reporting that 40 percent of adults nationwide support the federal law making changes to the health care system, while 57 percent oppose it.

Among young Blacks, support is strongest as 68 percent approve of Obamacare while 62 percent approve of the Affordable Care Act.  Among Whites, 28 percent approve of Obamacare and 26 percent approve of the Affordable Care Act; 48 percent of Hispanics approve of Obamacare, while 51 percent of Hispanics approve of the Affordable Care Act.

For young Americans who report that they are uninsured, support for Obamacare is 35 percent;  approval is nine points higher (44%) when the law is referred to as the Affordable Care Act.

Less than One Third of Uninsured Millennials Under 30 Plan to Enroll

Regardless of the term used in describing the federal health reform package, less than one-in-four (20% with use of Affordable Care Act and 22% with use of Obamacare) young Americans under the age of 30 report that they would definitely or probably enroll in insurance through an exchange if and when they are eligible. Forty-seven percent (47%) tell us that they will probably not or definitely not enroll under the ACA program, 45 percent say the same under Obamacare. 

Among the 22 percent of people under 30 who do not have health insurance presently, 29 percent (13% definitely will enroll, 16% probably will enroll) say they will roll in the program described as Obamacare, and 25 percent (10% definitely will enroll, 15% probably will enroll) say the same when it’s referred to as the Affordable Care Act.
One of the most telling predictors of likelihood to enroll is political affiliation.  Less than ten percent of Republicans plan to enroll in an exchange, less than 20 percent of Independents -- and between 35 and 40 percent of Democrats, depending on the name associated with the law.  Obamacare proves to be five percent (40% definitely or probably enroll) more beneficial when Democrats are considering enrollment compared to the Affordable Care Act (35% definitely or probably enroll).

Majority of Millennials Under 30 Believe Costs Will Rise and Quality Will Fall Under Health Reform

Between 50 (when ACA is used) and 51 percent (when Obamacare is used) of young people believe their cost of care will increase under the health reform law; approximately one-in-ten (10% under ACA, 11% under Obamacare) tell us that their costs will likely decrease.  Young Americans who think their health care costs will increase are much less likely to enroll in the insurance program mandated by the 2010 legislation.  Sixty percent (60%) of those who say they are unlikely to enroll in the Affordable Care Act program believe that their costs under the program would increase, which is significantly higher than those who say they will enroll in the program (40% of this group believe their cost of coverage will increase, 43% say it will stay about the same and 16% say it will decrease.)

By a margin of more than two-to-one, young people under the age of 30 believe that the quality of their care will get worse under the new health care provisions.  When Millennials in our survey are asked their opinion related to the Affordable Care Act, 17 percent say they expect the quality of their care to improve, 44 percent say it will worsen.  When this question is asked to a similar group about Obamacare, the number who believe their care will get better is 18 percent, with 40 percent saying things will get worse.

Young Americans under 30 tell us that the news media is a primary source of information related to the president’s health care initiative, with 67 percent of those who were asked about the Affordable Care Act saying that the news was a primary source, and 72 percent saying the same when they were asked about Obamacare.  Friends and social media were the second leading source (42% ACA and 43% Obamacare) followed by (12% ACA and 14% Obamacare).  Those who are unlikely to enroll are significantly more likely to have received information about the programs through the news media (77% ACA, 80% Obamacare) and their employer (21% ACA, 26% Obamacare).

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