For all the noise politicians make about the sweeping health care reform law passed three years ago, dubbed 'Obamacare,' Americans are largely in the dark about its implementation.
About 48 percent of those recently surveyed said they know "nothing at all" about whether their state is setting up a new insurance marketplace as prescribed by the law or deferring to the federal government versus just 15 percent have heard "some" about this or 7 percent who have heard "a lot," according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Much ado is also being made in Washington about whether or not Red State governors are taking up the federal government's offer to help fund an expansion of Medicaid, also part of the health care reform overhaul, but the poll shows a majority of public support for the act. About 52 percent say they support expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income people versus 41 percent who oppose the move.
Overall, support for the law has not changed much since it was signed three years ago – just about 37 percent of people have a favorable view of the measure versus 40 percent who have an unfavorable view. Democrats and independents are also much more supportive of Obamacare than are Republicans. But ignorance persists on the measure, as well. About 57 percent of those polled admit they don't have enough information to understand how it will affect them personally, compared to 41 percent who say they do.
There is a disconnect between the public's perception of whether health care costs are increasingfaster or slower than usual, according to the poll.
"Analysis of national data has shown that while health care cost growth continues to outpace inflation, the rate of growth in national health expenditures has slowed markedly in recent years," says a Kaiser Foundation memo that accompanied the poll results.
"The public's perception of the cost trajectory is quite different however. Nearly six in 10 adults say that over the past few years the cost of health care for the nation as a whole has been going up faster than usual," it reads.
The poll highlights issues that have plagued the law since it was being crafted – that the complex overhaul is misunderstood by most (even lawmakers) and unpopular with Republicans. GOP lawmakers continue to demonize the legislation and have repeatedly voted to repeal it, despite the fact that President Barack Obama would veto any measure to remove his signature reforms should it reach his desk.
While some of Obamacare's provisions have already taken effect, full implementation will not happen until 2014.