Young Americans Expect Obamacare to Be Repealed

United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll finds widespread pessimism among African-Americans about the law’s future too.

Audience members watch as US President Barack Obama speaks on the Affordable Care Act at Prince Georges Community College on September 26, 2013 in Largo, Maryland. On October 1, 2013, open enrollment starts for the new Obamacare online, state-based exchanges, where consumers will be able to compare and shop for private health insurance plans. 
National Journal
James Oliphant
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James Oliphant
Dec. 5, 2013, 3:27 p.m.

The young Amer­ic­ans the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion so des­per­ately needs to help make the Af­ford­able Care Act func­tion are the ones most likely to be­lieve the law is en­dangered, sug­gest­ing that sus­tained House Re­pub­lic­an ef­forts to re­peal and un­der­mine the law are bear­ing some fruit.

More than half of 18-to-29-year-olds who were sur­veyed in the most re­cent United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll say it is likely the law will be re­pealed in 2014, even though the chances of that ac­tu­ally oc­cur­ring are re­mote.

Ac­cord­ing to the poll, 18 per­cent of re­spond­ents in this age group said it was “very likely” Obama­care would be re­pealed by Con­gress next year, while 33 per­cent said it was “some­what likely” the law would be done away with. The sur­vey has an over­all mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.6 per­cent­age points.

That has real-world im­plic­a­tions. The ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­lent­lessly wooed these so-called young in­vin­cibles — young, healthy Amer­ic­ans — to sign up to pur­chase health in­sur­ance through on­line ex­changes. Those con­sumers, who tend to use health care ser­vices less fre­quently, are needed to sub­sid­ize the cost of treat­ing older, sick­er ones. Without their par­ti­cip­a­tion in large num­bers (the tar­get for next year is 40 per­cent of all new en­rollees), premi­um rates for con­sumers in the ex­changes could rise.

The ACA’s ad­voc­ates have de­rided the House GOP for vot­ing to re­peal the law more than 40 times, ar­guing that it’s a waste of le­gis­lat­ive time since the Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate won’t con­sider such a bill. But the poll’s res­ults in­dic­ate that those at­tempts may have ad­ded to the wide­spread pub­lic con­fu­sion about the law’s status. In ad­di­tion, the re­lent­lessly neg­at­ive cov­er­age of the act in the wake of the botched rol­lout of the fed­er­al Health­Care.gov ex­change site may have con­trib­uted to the pub­lic’s sense that the law is en­dangered.

The poll res­ults also jibe with a sur­vey re­leased this week by the Har­vard In­sti­tute of Polit­ics which found that few­er than 30 per­cent of young Amer­ic­ans age 18-29 would or prob­ably would sign up for health in­sur­ance and few­er than 40 per­cent of those sur­veyed ap­prove of the law.

It also re­vealed wide­spread pess­im­ism among Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans about the law’s fu­ture. A stag­ger­ing 70 per­cent of those sur­veyed (in all age groups) be­lieve it is “some­what likely” or “very likely” the law will be re­pealed next year.

The United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll, con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, sur­veyed 1,003 adults by land­line and cell phone from Nov. 21-24.

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