Many Want Changes to the Health Care Law but Few Support Its Immediate Repeal

Few Americans want to keep the nation’s health care law just as it is now, but most do not want to see it completely dismantled either, according to a national poll of 1,036 adults conducted in January by The AP-NORC Center using AmeriSpeak®.

Few Americans want to keep the nation’s health care law just as it is now, but most do not want to see it completely dismantled either. According to the latest national poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 12 percent want the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—also known as “Obamacare”—kept in its current form while 40 percent say former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement should be preserved, albeit with improvements. On the other side, 16 percent say the law should be repealed immediately, although twice as many, 31 percent, want President Donald Trump and Congress to wait to repeal the law until a substitute is ready.

During his campaign for president, Trump promised to “completely repeal Obamacare,” and with a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, the Trump administration is well-positioned to make that happen. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate recently passed budget measures that are considered the first steps in the process.

Many elements of the health care law are popular, and the majority of Americans want to retain them in any replacement law Congress might pass. The elimination of charges for many preventive treatments, the ban on excluding people with pre-existing conditions from insurance coverage, and the ability for young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 have the most support for inclusion in the new law. The public does not support including the mandate for most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine in a replacement law.

In general, half of Americans support the ACA while about a third oppose and 15 percent are noncommittal. Supporters consider the law’s role in expanding health insurance coverage for less affluent Americans, making health insurance more affordable, and protecting against insurance denial based on pre-existing conditions to be particularly important reasons for their defense of the law. Increased out-of-pocket costs and unhappiness with the size of the government’s role in health care are important reasons for opposition to the law.

The nationwide poll was conducted January 12-16, 2017, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 1,036 adults.

Three Things You Should Know about
The AP-NORC Poll on the Health Care Law:

Among All American Adults…

  1. Fifty-three percent say the health care law should be kept, and 46 percent want it repealed. But 40 percent say changes are needed to make the law work better, and 31 percent say the law should stay in place until a replacement is ready.
  2. Many provisions of the law are popular even among those who want to see the law dismantled. Most popular are eliminating charges for some preventive procedures, permitting young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance until they are age 26, and preventing the denial of insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions.  
  3. Forty-six percent say they have not been personally affected by the law, 27 percent say the law has improved their lives, and 26 percent say it has had a detrimental effect.