Affordable Care Act / Healthcare

Affordable Care Act: Why Public Opinion Matters

We all know what bad publicity and bad public opinion has done to athletes and celebrities – they loose sponsorships, popularity and sometimes even their jobs.  Just ask Paula Dean or Tiger Woods what bad publicity as done to them and their careers. These public figures had a blemish and it negatively affected the ability to sell their product.  Of course these are extreme examples of bad publicity but they do illustrate negative outcomes of negative public opinion.

The Obama administration announced that they are delaying the enforcement of the Employer Insurance Mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This announcement has raised concerns about the stability of the ACA, and left many questioning the reasoning behind it.  The employer mandate is just another delay that the ACA has run into that is affecting public opinion.

The media has been consumed with this news, trying to project the effects of this delay in the ACA.  Congress has also paid very close attention to new of the delay of the Employer Mandate.  The Committee on Way and Means held a hearing on the delay of the Employer Mandate.  Republicans view this as the tip of the iceberg of bigger issues to come, while Democrats see the issue as small hurdle in implementing the ACA.  The final outcome from these repeated delays, however, remains to be seen.  Whether this leads to financial woes, instability of the ACA, or is just a small hiccup in the implementation, the public’s perception of the act continues to sour.  The outcome the ACA, much of it riding on major mandates going into effect, will play a major role in 2014 and future elections, and arguably will be the legacy of Obama’s presidency – good or bad.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s June Tracking Polls show that negativity towards the ACA is growing faster than positive opinions of the law.  It should be obvious why public opinion matters.  The way the public sees this law will effect future elections and the success of implementing the law.  In the Kaiser Poll 43% of individuals had an unfavorable opinion of the ACA.  The trend in recent months does not bode well for the support of the ACA.  Another concern is that if individuals do not have confidence in the law they may not enroll in the exchanges.  To meet the CBO’s predictions, 7 million individuals will need to enroll in the exchanges in 2014.  If individuals do not believe in the ACA they might not buy the product. Low enrollment could create even more negative publicity for the ACA.

In an earlier post I discussed the how a large portion of the uninsured are young Americans, and how their participation in the exchanges is critical for the success of the ACA.  The Obama Administration has made a large push to educate and promote the insurance exchanges to the young uninsured.  Those enrolling in the exchanges need to feel they are better off with health insurance and better off because of the ACA.  Without that opinion the enrollment in the exchanges will be low.

Time will tell how this new announcement will play out, however the media has already begun to pick it apart.  In addition, House Republicans have begun talking about delaying the individual mandate because without the employer mandate the integrity of the exchanges is in question.  Whatever the outcome, this announcement may play a large role in public opinion and ultimately the success of the ACA.