Poll: Americans hate Obamacare (until they use it)

Oh America, you are adorable.

Back in 2010, a Newsweek poll showed that Americans “hate” Obamacare, but loved it component parts.

Even Republicans, who “loathe” Obamacare, overwhelmingly support most of the legislation’s key provisions.

Doc via Shutterstock

Doc via Shutterstock

So it’s shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new Gallup poll shows Americans, yet again, hopping mad about Obamacare.

But as CNN notes, another Gallup poll shows that the actual people who use Obamacare, love it:

Over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance.

The people who hate the Affordable Care Act are generally people who have no idea what it even does, and who aren’t affected by it at all.

There are a number of lessons here:

1. Democrats stink at messaging.

2. Republicans are awfully good at messaging.

3. Lying doesn’t tend to impede the success of the GOP message machine.

4. Americans are seldom shy about having a strong opinion on something they know nothing about.

In the end, I’d like to say ignore the polls, but the Republicans are so good at misrepresenting the truth, that even a lie — especially a lie — can do a lot of damage. I’ve said from day one that Democrats were doing a lousy job of selling their programs. Whether it was the stimulus that quite literally saved our country, or Obamacare, that wasn’t all we wanted, but it also wasn’t too shoddy either.

Unfortunately in life, and politics, doing good isn’t enough. You have to market what you’re selling, and continue to market it even after it’s sold. The bad guys won’t stop trying to shoot it down. And you should never cease defending it.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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56 Responses to “Poll: Americans hate Obamacare (until they use it)”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    You specifically said “For-profit insurance companies are not doing well under O-care–that’s why they’re participating in so few Exchanges”

    I pointed out that your statement was untrue and provided some data. “Some of the largest health insurers are hitting all-time highs. … Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH +0.74%), Humana (HUM +0.91%), Aetna (AET +0.94%) and WellPoint (WLP +1.73%) rallied Wednesday — with all four recording all-time highs in the wake of the Obama administration announcement that total enrollment in Affordable Care Act health exchange plans now tops 5 million. MSN Money March 20th, 2014


    You didn’t comment on any of that.

  2. caphillprof says:

    No, it’s his behavior, or rather, lack of behavior.

  3. BeccaM says:

    No, I am not thinking about the “you can keep your insurance” lie. Nor am I thinking about the other lie that the public insurance option was considered an important feature that the president actually cared about, when in fact it was one of the very first things off the table during the closed-door negotiations.

    I do have a good memory for a woman my age. I remember the campaigns. I remember how during the primaries, Obama made a point several times how his plan differed from Hillary Clinton’s — and no mandate was part of it.

    Seriously. I am not confused. And I’m sorry, but all politicians lie, Obama included.

  4. Maggie Mahar says:

    Becca– When I do that, I don’t find any lies.

    Perhaps you’re thinking of “If you like your insurance you can keep it” –That line was specifically directed to folks who have employer -based insurance as both I and a fact-checking organization recognized at the time. Please see http://www.healthbeatblog.com/2014/02/did-president-obama-lie-when-he-said-if-you-like-the-policy-you-have-you-can-keep-it-context-is-everything/
    As Obama went on to repeat what he originally said, he shortened it–so people thought he was saying that they could keep insurance they
    had purchased in imdivd. market.

    But very early on, Sebelius held a press conference explaining that thousands of those policies purchased in individual market would be cancelled because they didn’t cover all essential benefits (like maternity, mental health, rehab after surgery, etc. etc. etc. )

    Her press conference was aired on Fox and the NYT wrote about it. The admin wan’t hiding anything.

    Obama has made mistakes (trying to compromise with GOP, assuming they were rational, etc. ) But lying is not one of his
    major faults.

  5. BeccaM says:

    Why not type “obama health insurance mandate primary campaign speech” into Google and find all the links you need?


    It’s not that hard at all. I also happen to remember those primary campaign speeches.

  6. Maggie Mahar says:

    Thanks Becca.

    Didn’t mean to jump to a conclusion —but
    I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would call him “lazy”
    (should add that he’s not my favorite politician– I favored Hillary because
    she understood what she was going to be up against, and is a real fighter)much

    That said O is much harder-working than most presidents who preceded him

  7. Maggie Mahar says:

    Bill– Insurers are going up largely because virtually all stocks have been soaring.
    When the broad market climbs, it lifts all boats. (I wrote about the stock market for years–including insurers. Their profits also depend to a fair degree on how their bond investments are doing & bonds have been doing very well.)

    More importantly, the market is often wrong. Most investors have never read the ACA and have no idea how tightly it regulates insurers. Meanwhile insurers went along with the new regs because they thought O would not be re-elected, and that after he lost the regs would be changed. (For a post explaining, try Googling my name and “Obamacare” and “a seat at the table”

  8. Maggie Mahar says:

    Most of today’s Democratic candidates are cowardly moderates. With a few exceptions (Elizabeth Warren!) they’re afraid to speak out.
    But I’m hoping for better candidates in 2016.

  9. Maggie Mahar says:

    BeccaM —

    Exactly. Obamacare does bring benefits to those with employer-based
    ins. Can’t be explained in a one-liner, but over time, as they and co-workers
    benefit, they’ll recognize this.

  10. Maggie Mahar says:

    BeccaM– an example of Obama lying about the individual mandate– with a link?

  11. rmthunter says:

    The problem is, the ones who do know something are seldom heard. And it’s not just Fox News — the major press outlets are much more concerned with ephemera than substance. Remember, they’re all big corporations.

  12. rmthunter says:

    My doctor is prettier. In fact, my doctor is terminally gorgeous. And very easy to get along with.

  13. rmthunter says:

    As someone on Medicare, I’d like to point out that Part D — prescription drug coverage — is a disaster. (This is the Republican contribution to health care coverage.) Granted, my policy has saved me much more than I’ve paid in premiums — until I hit the donut hole. Now I can’t afford my inhaler again until next year because my copay went up over 300%. Meanwhile, copays on my other medications (which, thankfully, are few) went down (nominally, but I’m already paying next to nothing). Which means the pricing structure is fairly arbitrary and dictated by the insurance companies. It’s also subject to lots of limitations, like I have to use a pharmacy that’s on their list.

    The rest of the program is pretty good, except for the Part A deductible, which I think is too high.

    And one response from the private sector that I’ve noticed — my pharmacy (Osco), and I’m sure others, have their own programs. My pharmacy put me on their discount program before I had Part D (I didn’t even have to ask), and they have their own program to cut costs on generics.

  14. rmthunter says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of Republicans not wanting people to have those things so much as they don’t care — the ones who are calling the shots have theirs, and screw everyone else. (Case in point: Paul Ryan, who not only wants to get rid of the ACA but also gut Social Security — now that he went through college on SS survivor benefits.)

    They’re against the ACA because it’s Obama’s. They’re still working on making him a one-term president.

  15. BeccaM says:

    A good friend of mine is a cancer survivor. He also has a wife and kid. And he was almost literally working himself to death in a major tech company because he could not afford to lose for no reason other than the generous health insurance benefits.

    He’s a frugal guy, and has a paid-off house in the SF Bay Area (which is saying a lot) and a fair amount of money in the bank. He could easily have afforded to retire or to start his own consulting business — if not for the health insurance issue.

    Now he can.


    I found one other site having excellent information and thanks for show this site.

    Medical Books Store

  17. Houndentenor says:

    Yes, but you’d think from listening to pundits and politicians discuss health care that everyone who is working gets health insurance through their employers. A lot of us don’t. I’m more than a little disgusted with the way that the political and chattering class act as if more than half the country doesn’t exist.

  18. Houndentenor says:

    Yes, and I know several people who can now switch jobs if they want to and still get insurance. Before they wouldn’t have been able to. There are also people finally quitting jobs they hate to start their own businesses which they couldn’t do before because they couldn’t get insurance if they left their plan due to pre-existing conditions. There’s a lot good in ACA and I don’t know why Democrats don’t talk about that instead of acting like they did something wrong. What a disgusting display this election was and some of them deserved to lose considering the shitty campaigns they ran.

  19. trinu says:

    Plenty of people disapprove of the law because it didn’t go far enough. An individual mandate without a public option amounts to a huge giveaway to the insurance industry, and they’ll just use loopholes to get out of the limits on administrative fees. We need single payer or at least a public option, but thanks to Obamacare, if anyone brings it up, opponents will just be able to say, we already go healthcare reform.

  20. Bill_Perdue says:

    Poll: U.S. Split on Socialized Medicine – The results: 45% said they thought it (scoialized medicine) would improve health care, 39% said they thought it would worsen health care, 4% said they thought it wouldn’t make much difference, and 12% didn’t know or didn’t answer. – Harvard School of Public Health and Harris Interactive: “Debating Health, Election 2008 — Americans’ Views on Socialized Medicine. News release, Harvard School of Public Health.”

  21. bobbybear.i.am says:

    Maggie I completely agree with what you’re saying except you need to replace “People who have their own insurance at work” with “White People” and replace “others” with “Black People”. It’s that simple but no one will say it.

  22. Bill_Perdue says:

    Your belief in the permanence of a society run by and for the rich is misplaced.

    Which is true? “For-profit insurance companies are not doing well under O-care–that’s why they’re participating in so few Exchanges” or “Some of the largest health insurers are hitting all-time highs. … Shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH +0.74%), Humana (HUM +0.91%), Aetna (AET +0.94%) and WellPoint (WLP +1.73%) rallied Wednesday — with all four recording all-time highs in the wake of the Obama administration announcement that total enrollment in Affordable Care Act health exchange plans now tops 5 million. MSN Money March 20th, 2014

  23. BeccaM says:

    You’re kinda new here, Maggie. I can assure you that Caphillprof is in no way a racist.

    Welcome anyway though.

  24. BeccaM says:

    Actually, people who have insurance through their employers think they don’t benefit from the ACA. What they don’t realize is the days of unaffordable COBRA are gone, as are annual and lifetime benefit caps. That they can now have their kids on their policy until they’re 26 years old. That the double-digit premium increases and erosion of benefits has, for now anyway, been abated. That there’s a pretty long list of benefits that have to be free now (as in, no co-pay — a feature which I myself took advantage of when it was time to get my yearly flu shot.) And that if they do have a dream of starting a small business or taking a sabbatical or retiring early, none of those mean having to “go naked” without health insurance.

    But yeah, those kind of things aren’t easy to explain in one-liners.

  25. Butch1 says:

    Unfortunately, they’re easy for the dim-witted to remember.

  26. Maggie Mahar says:

    Butch1– Yes — all of the GOP “messaging” is about “catch-phrases.”

  27. Maggie Mahar says:

    Naja– very true. And what most single-payer advocates never admit is that no country in continental Western Europe has single payer. (Only UK and Canada)

    All Western European countries have hybrid plans that Regulate insurers –which is what the ACA does. Western European countries also regulate the prices that drug-makers, device-makers, hospitals & doctors can charge.

    The ACA gives Medicare the power to do this–and it is beginning to happen.

    Private insurers will be happy to follow Medicare’s lead.

  28. Maggie Mahar says:

    caphillprof– Poll Democrats nationwide. Those who have employer-based insurance (the majority of those who are insured) do not want to give it up for an unknown govt. program.
    Poll Democrats in Congress. The vast majority would never vote for single-payer.

    You call Obama “lazy”. Look at what he has accomplished –working v. hard, in school, i Congress, & while campaigning. Look at how he has aged since he came to the White House.

    I wonder if his skin color leads you to conclude that he is “lazy.”

  29. Maggie Mahar says:

    Stanley– If you’re lying it’s easy to sum up your “message” in a few snappy words.
    The truth is usually far, far more complicated.

    The truth requires many more words–qualifiers, and many more sentences to address the different groups that will be helped by O-care.
    — “If you’re a middle-income family . . .”
    — “Even if you’re too rich to be eligible for a subsidy, the ACA protects you against being bankrupted by medical bills because . . .”
    — “If you’re a woman . .”
    — “If you’re a young single male you can buy catastrophic,”
    –If you’re 25-34 chances are your insurance will cost you $100 a month—or less”
    — If you have kids, suddenly preventive care is free . .

    If the law seems “unfocused” it is because it is focused on all of us, but we’re not all alike.
    We have different needs. The law (which I’ve read) addresses those needs. That’s why it’s so long. And that’s what is good about it.

    The good news is that

  30. BeccaM says:

    Basically, Obama and the Dems lied about the parts of the PPACA that Americans hate — the mandate, the lack of a public option, inadequate regulations on the insurance companies — in order to get the law passed. And not only did they stupidly delay the best parts until just last year, most of the Dems have been behaving since 2010 as if they’re actually ashamed to have passed it at all.

    And the GOPers are lying about the parts of the PPACA that Americans love and really need — such as guaranteed issue, banned pre-existing condition exclusions, removing the gender bias, no more annual or lifetime limits, allowing kids to remain on parents’ policy until 26, required medical spending ratios and so on — in order to repeal the law.

    What’s missing? Neither party plans or proposes to do anything to improve the law.

    But it’s also true that the Republicans have a distinct advantage in that their lies are all the more bald-faced, but even the mainstream media won’t call them out on it. Like McConnell claiming Kentucky can keep Kynect and have it serve any purpose whatsoever after he and the GOPers repeal the ACA “root and branch.” On the other hand, the Dems are mistaken if they think their only problem is ‘messaging.’

  31. Maggie Mahar says:


    That’s not going to happen.

    Congress won’t vote for “confiscatory taxes on the rich” (not now, not in 2017)

    And most working people don’t want “Socialized medicine” IF they have employer-based insurance they like it. Employers pay 60% to 70% and employees pay no taxes on it.
    Now, if they have O-care they (working people) like it: subsidies, free preventive care, dental and vision for kids.

    For-profit insurance companies are not doing well under O-care–that’s why they’re participating in so few Exchanges. The best non-profits (Kaiser, etc.) will do well. The for-profits are looking to Asia for a new market.

  32. Maggie Mahar says:

    People who have their own insurance at work tend to dislike O-care because they don’t benefit from it, and fear that if others gain something, they will lose something. Also, as you say, they know little about O-care.
    I wouldn’t blame Dems for not “messaging” well; it’s rich, complicated law that you can’t explain in
    GOP type one-liners.

  33. Bill_Perdue says:

    Obamacare/Romneycare is private insurance that workers are forced to get
    to increase profits for profit gouging insurance and pharmaceutical companies
    and their owners.

    That part of Obamacare/Romneycare works really well.

    What working people really need is socialized medicine paid for by confiscatory taxes on the rich.

  34. Stanley_Krute says:

    The Dem messaging weakness is key. Have never quite figured why it is so. I think perhaps there’s a bit of intellectual arrogance going on. Plus: too many words, wandering, weak, unfocused. Sigh.

  35. therling says:

    I’d hazard a guess that a good number of those who “hate Obamacare” also want “the government to keep its hands off their Medicare.”

  36. Naja pallida says:

    A very few Democrats may have said they preferred single payer, but not a single one even lifted so much as a finger to try and fight for it.

  37. Naja pallida says:

    This has been the case since day one of the policy debate, every time polling was done. Hate Obamacare, but love not being denied insurance for pre-existing conditions. Hate Obamacare, but love allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance much longer. Hate Obamacare, but love no lifetime limits on insurance coverage. Etc, etc. Every time they polled on each individual provision, people liked them, but any time they just polled broadly about Obamacare, people hated it. When the wording of the poll shifts to refer to the Affordable Care Act, suddenly they like it again.

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. A good percentage of them hear something on TV or talk radio, and can’t help but latch onto that as their sole opinion from then on.

  38. GarySFBCN says:

    True about the messaging. But there is another issue too: Every program, especially something as big as Obamacare needs minor adjustments in the first few years. But that is mostly impossible due to the Republicans.

    If ACA could be adjusted to make it better, we would see customer satisfaction percentages rise.

    Regardless, the Republicans have offered nothing. They want you to be denied health care insurance if you have a pre-existing condition. They want you to be subjected to insurance industry caps.

  39. keirmeister says:

    This, boys and girls, is what happens when you suck at messaging and marketing.

  40. dcinsider says:

    I guess it did post LOL!

  41. dcinsider says:

    Here it is!

  42. dcinsider says:

    This work?

  43. The only people happy with Obolacare are the lowlife leeches that don’t have to pay for it

  44. You find a photo that says “obamacare,” and get back to me :)

  45. caphillprof says:

    The fault here lies solely with Barack Obama. It’s his program. Democrats preferred single payer. The man is lazy, no follow through.

  46. Butch1 says:

    Must be so. ;-)

  47. Butch1 says:

    Ouch! Good one, though!

  48. dcinsider says:

    I don’t know who the queen bee is but her last name is Cheney.

  49. dcinsider says:

    If it’s on the Internet it must be true, so clearly he’s a real doctor. And cute doctors like Obamacare!

  50. Butch1 says:


  51. Butch1 says:

    This is only because of the excellent PR of the republican talking machine and the repetitive by route drumming to the dim-witted on FOX NOISE so that even they eventually get it in all the “talking points” of the day. When every single announcer repeats verbatim certain catch phrases which are picked up by the leaders in the House and the Senate and all of their cronies who flock towards the press whenever they see an open microphone, you will hear the very same catch phrases said over the air.

    Jon Stewart and other comedians have spliced videos of these people repeating these “catch phrases” one right after the other to prove a point that it isn’t just a coincidence. One would think they check in the morning to see what the talking points are going to be that day and they aren’t bright enough to change the phrasing so they sound original, but like a drone repeating what the “Queen Bee” has decreed. I’m curious who is the “Queen Bee?” ;-)

  52. emjayay says:

    Actually cute model wearing lab coat, scrubs, and stethoscope provided by the costumer.

  53. dcinsider says:

    Cute doctor. Did I miss the point of the article?

  54. mgardener says:

    Of course republicans are good at messaging, they have Fox news 24/7 to do their dirty work!

  55. mark_in_toronto says:

    “4. Americans are seldom shy about having a strong opinion on something they know nothing about.”
    Yeah . . . THAT one.
    And those who DO know something are seldom shy about speaking up.
    Go figure.

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