Health Reform WK-EDGE Ten years after enactment, majority of Americans approve of ACA
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Ten years after enactment, majority of Americans approve of ACA

By Rebecca Mayo, J.D.

A recent Gallup poll showed that overall 52 percent of Americans approve of the ACA, with Democrats showing higher support than ever before.

As we approach the ten-year anniversary of the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the presidential election has stirred up debate about overhauling or abandoning the ACA. According to a new Gallup poll, Democrats may not be in a hurry to abandon the ACA. Overall approval of the ACA hit a record-high 55 percent in 2017 and has hovered at around 50 percent until the most recent poll, which showed 52 percent of Americans approve of the law. While Republican approval ratings have remained mostly unchanged, Independent approval has increased since 2016 and Democrat approval recently hit an all-time high.

Trends. The majority of Americans have supported the ACA in only three Gallup polls on the ACA since 2012. From 2012 to 2016, attitudes more often tilted against the law, with the majority disapproving of the ACA. A record-high 94 percent of Democrats now approve the ACA, compared to the 80 percent who approved in 2013. The approval by Republicans has remain largely unchanged from seven percent in 2013 to 11 percent currently in 2020. A majority of Independents initially approved of the ACA, but those numbers dropped during the ACA’s least popular days while the health care exchanges were being rolled out. Independent support has rebounded, and 53 percent of Independents now approve the ACA.

ACA impact. A major concern when the ACA initially passed was that people would be forced to give up their existing primary care physician or medical plan because they wouldn’t be compliant with the ACA. In fact, 78 percent of Americans said that they did not have to change their primary care doctor or their existing medical plan. Twenty-eight percent said that the ACA allowed them to obtain health insurance after not having it previously and 20 percent were able to obtain coverage for a preexisting medical condition that wasn’t covered before the law passed. However, 53 percent of Americans reported that their premiums increased since the ACA passed and 61 percent do not think they have access to more services in their plan since the law’s enactment.

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