(Bloomberg View) — Good news for Obamacare supporters: It’s quite a bit less unpopular than it was a few months ago. The uptick leads to the question: Will the Affordable Care Act ever actually be popular? Looking at the long run, Republicans may have done the law a favor by naming it Obamacare.
The most difficult factor to overcome is built into the structure of the law. People who benefit directly from expanded coverage are either on Medicaid or are buying private insurance on exchanges that don’t mention the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), let alone Obamacare. Those who stand to gain indirectly from the cost-cutting part (if it pans out) or from new regulations on insurers are even less likely to know that the rules against lifetime caps on medical bills were part of health care reform.
And we’ve likely already reached or passed peak awareness of how Obamacare helped those with pre-existing conditions, to cite another example. As time goes on, fewer and fewer new enrollees will know they once would have been denied coverage, even for minor health problems.
It’s true that most of the costs of the law are indirect as well. But because it was so highly publicized, it’s easy for people to blame any health care problems on the ACA. (Others can pass the buck. Employers, for example, can fault the law when they shift health-insurance costs to employees for unrelated reasons.)