A sizable minority of Americans don’t understand that Obamacare is just another name for the Affordable Care Act.
This finding, from a poll by Morning Consult, illustrates the extent of public confusion over a health law that President Trump and Republicans in Congress hope to repeal.
In the survey, 35 percent of respondents said either they thought Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different policies (17 percent) or didn’t know if they were the same or different (18 percent). This confusion was more pronounced among people 18 to 29 and those who earn less than $50,000 — two groups that could be significantly affected by repeal.
Among Republicans, a higher percentage (72 percent) said they knew Obamacare and the A.C.A. were the same, which may reflect the party’s longstanding hostility to the law.
When respondents were asked what would happen if Obamacare were repealed, even more people were stumped. Approximately 45 percent did not know that the A.C.A. would be repealed. Twelve percent of Americans said the A.C.A. would not be repealed, and 32 percent said they didn’t know.
Confusion about the health law has been persistent. Several years ago, the late-night host Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at people who thought Obamacare and the A.C.A. were different, and similar examples spread on social media last month after Congress paved the way for repeal. (Republicans say they will replace the law with a better policy but have not agreed on any legislation.)
This confusion may affect the public debate over health care policy. If many people think repealing Obamacare would not affect the popular provisions of the A.C.A., they might not understand the potential consequences of the proposals being considered in Washington.
For instance, only 61 percent of adults knew that many people would lose coverage through Medicaid or subsidies for private health insurance if the A.C.A. were repealed and no replacement enacted. In contrast, approximately one in six Americans, or 16 percent, said that “coverage through Medicaid and subsidies that help people buy private health insurance would not be affected” by repeal, and 23 percent did not know.
Knowledge of the policy consequences of repeal without replacement differed especially sharply along partisan lines. Though Republicans were more likely to know that Obamacare is another name for the A.C.A., only 47 percent of them said expanded Medicaid coverage and private insurance subsidies would be eliminated under repeal (compared with 79 percent of Democrats), while 29 percent said Medicaid and subsidies would not be affected and 24 percent said they didn’t know.
Despite this widespread confusion, Republicans in Congress have recently started to edge away from A.C.A. repeal as the politics of the issue have become more difficult. What would happen if people understood the law better?
The survey was conducted by Morning Consult on Jan. 25 and 26 among a national sample of 1,890 adults. Interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.