What parts of Obamacare are popular and what is not?

Nearly eight out of ten Americans like one of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

After a year that saw an incredible drop in the percentage of Americans uninsured, we’re in the midst of the second year of signups for private insurance through the Obamacare insurance marketplaces.

Those marketplaces (or exchanges) are very popular.

Also highly popular, with support at or over 75%, are the subsidies for individuals to buy insurance, as is Medicaid expansion.

The mandate for large employers to buy insurance is supported by 60%.

As you can see in this graph from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s respected health care tracking poll, the only provision that isn’t liked is the individual mandate, which has a paltry 35% support. (source)


It’s striking that the individual mandate, the least popular provision, is also the best known part of the ACA.

Perhaps that helps account for why, according to the Kaiser poll, disapproval is still a bit higher than approval for the law, with 46% disapproving and 41% approving.

The individual mandate

Interestingly, Kaiser found that when people learn more about how the mandate works in the larger health policy landscape, support for it increases.

For example, 62% have a favorable view of the individual mandate when they learn that “most Americans still get coverage through their employers or a public insurance program.”

Nearly six in ten support it when they find out that that people won’t be held to it if it costs too high a portion of their income.


The exchange

In Maine, 40,000 people got health insurance through the exchange in 2014. The average insurance cost after the subsidy was $99/month.

Last year, 80% of Maine exchange policies were for plans offered by the health care coop, Maine Community Health Options.

Nationally about 8 million people used the exchange to get insurance, 85% of whom received a subsidy.

Open-enrollment for its second year, via the very popular insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, runs through February 15, 2014.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.