In the past month, fewer and fewer Americans have said that they are confused about the new health reform law. Though more than four in 10 continue to struggle, and just over one-third say they don’t understand how the law will affect them personally, the basic shape of opinion overall on the reform law remains unchanged, with the nation still firmly divided along partisan lines.
According to the May Kaiser health tracking survey, there is less enthusiasm about health reform. Those who look upon the law favorably tend to focus on the ways it will increase access to coverage and care, while those who view the law unfavorably have a more splintered array of reasoning – beginning with concerns about cost and government control.
While more than half of the public (55 percent) said that the word “confused” aptly described their feelings about the new health reform law in April, that proportion dropped by 11 percentage points in May. The drop was particularly evident among women, who are more likely to be making health care decisions for the household; 60 percent felt confused in April compared with 45 percent in May, bringing them more in line with the results among men.
Those with more education and higher incomes also dispelled their confusion at a higher rate this spring than those with less education and lower incomes. Even with the decrease, however, a substantial minority – 44 percent – say they remain confused about the health reform law.
Overall, a solid majority of Americans (61 percent) say they feel like they “understand what the impact of the health reform law will be” on themselves and their families, while 35 percent say they do not understand how they will be affected.
Americans living in households that bring in less than $40,000 a year and those who are uninsured are somewhat more likely than their counterparts to say they do not understand how the law will affect their own families, even though many components are specifically targeted at lower-income households.
Overall, the public continues to be divided in their views of the health reform law, with the poll finding 41 percent holding favorable views, 44 percent unfavorable views, and 14 percent undecided or unsure. These views continue to differ markedly by party, with most Democrats holding favorable views, most Republicans unfavorable views, and political independents tilting toward a negative viewpoint. As was true in April, voters who say they are likely to vote in the midterm elections are somewhat more likely to tilt negative in their views of health reform.