Americans' Familiarity With Healthcare Law Unchanged

Americans' Familiarity With Healthcare Law Unchanged

by Andrew Dugan

Nearly a third of the country not too or not at all familiar with the law

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' familiarity with the Affordable Care Act has remained static since last August, even after new provisions of the law have taken effect and the Obama administration has tried to promote understanding of it. A majority of Americans (68%) are very or somewhat familiar with the law, while a third of the country is not too or not at all familiar with it. Gallup found nearly identical familiarity numbers last August.

Trend: Americans' Familiarity With the Affordable Care Act

These results come from a Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Gallup poll. While a majority of Americans may disapprove of the still-unfolding healthcare law, commonly known as "Obamacare," nearly one in three are not too or not at all familiar with the measure.

Republicans More Familiar Than Democrats With the Law

Despite their general opposition to the law, Republicans are significantly more likely to say they are familiar with it than are independents or Democrats. The percentage of Republicans who have some degree of familiarity with the legislation (78%) is markedly above the 64% of Democrats who say they have a similar level of knowledge.

Americans' Familiarity With the Healthcare Law, by Self-Identified Party Affiliation, January-February 2014

This party dynamic partially helps explain why familiarity with the ACA appears to breed contempt. Nearly six in 10 Americans (58%) who say they are very or somewhat familiar with the law disapprove of it. By contrast, those not too or not at all familiar with the law are more divided in their opinions of the law -- 44% of this group approve and 35% disapprove, with 23% unsure.

Bottom Line

Whether it's the well-publicized website glitches, the focus on Obama's erroneous declaration that "if you like your plan, you can keep it," the requirement that most Americans have health insurance, or the law's brief appearance in last week's State of the Union address, the ACA has been the center of attention for some time.

But this has not translated into more Americans saying they are familiar with the ACA. This watershed legislation that will change the face of the U.S. healthcare system, for better or worse, remains somewhat of a mystery for a significant portion of the nation.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 31-Feb.1, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

IInterviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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