HCPollingThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010.  But many of the law’s main provisions do not take effect until 2014.  In the meantime, how are Americans shaping opinions about the law?

This May 2011 report from the Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Voice is a compilation of polling data from Rasmussen Reports, Gallup, the Pew Research Center, and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

What can we tell by looking at all this data together?  Some broad conclusions are:

  • Americans remain divided about the health law, but a majority of voters has consistenly favored repeal since the law’s passage.
  • Just since the beginning of 2011, confusion about the law is on the rise (probably due to lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the PPACA, and Congressional efforts to repeal it).
  • Some provisions of the law are more popular than others.  The individual mandate provision is least popular.
  • Support for the law varies by subgroup: Blacks and Hispanics, Democrats, and younger people are more likely to support the law. 
  • Independent voters who oppose the law do so because they believe it will make coverage more expensive and give government too large a role in health care.  They also believe the law does not address the real problems in our health care system.

Various polling firms use different question wordings and methodologies, which contribute to some apparent discrepancies in the numbers.  For example, how can a majority of people favor repeal (Rasmussen) while only 44 percent of people believe the law is a bad thing (Gallup)? 

Rasmussen Reports targets “Likely Voters,” a subset of Americans that are more likely to favor repeal of the health law.  Pew, Gallup, and the Kaiser Family Foundation seek to describe the views of all Americans, regardless of whether they are likely to vote. 

All four of these polling firms use unique questions to discern opinions about the health law.  Gallup asks if the law is a “good thing or bad thing.”  Pew asks if you “approve or disapprove.”  Rasmussen asks if you strongly favor repeal, somewhat favor repeal, strongly oppose repeal or somewhat oppose repeal of the law, and Kaiser asks if you find the law “favorable or unfavorable.”