Survey: Reform Support Holding Steady

by David Gorn

According to a survey released today, Californians approve of the Affordable Care Act's health care reform by a small margin, with 53% of those polled supporting the effort.

The numbers haven't changed much since the last survey -- which is a little surprising, said PPIC president and CEO Marc Baldassare.

"These numbers are pretty consistent with previous surveys. Really, there is no change over time in the approval numbers," Baldassare said.

And that's a bit of a surprise, given the publicity around next week's launch of open enrollment season for the Covered California health benefit exchange. 

"It's still hypothetical to most people, that's very clear," Baldassare said. "In coming months that may change."

What opened Baldassare's eyes wide, he said, was the survey data that showed 63% of Medicare or Medi-Cal beneficiaries approve of the ACA effort.

"That's the number that struck me," Baldassare said, "the 37% [with government-based insurance] who said it wouldn't make a difference to them. That's pretty surprising."

That number highlights how important the massive exchange outreach efforts are, he said.

"Therein lies the challenge," Baldassare said. "Getting out the information and making people aware, and seeing how many people will sign up."

Other survey highlights:

  • 43% of Californians don't expect the law to make much difference to them, personally. The ones who said they would be affected were almost evenly split about whether it would help or harm them.
  • Employees with insurance "generally felt really good about what they have," Baldassare said.
  • Health care reform is pretty well split along partisan lines, Baldassare said, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it.

It should become clear in the next few months whether or not the state exchange is able to conquer the big challenge of informing people about their options under the Affordable Care Act.

"Other polling data nationally have suggested that people might not comprehend it all," Baldassare said. "In terms of how people in California see it, there still is no change over time. And we'll see how things are two months from now."

PPIC likely will do a similar survey "in the coming months," Baldassare said, to gauge that progress.


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