Healthcare preferences remain unsettled among electorate

With less than six weeks to go before Election Day 2012, surveys seeking clarity on the issue of healthcare are finding some surprising lines of demarcation.

[See also: Healthcare costs raise serious concern among general public]

Regardless of who wins the White House, one survey found, Americans believe Obamacare will survive, albeit not entirely intact. But according to another poll, it’s the younger generation of voters that don’t necessarily favor that result.

As many as seven in 10 Americans, in fact, believe that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will take full effect, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll published on Sept. 26. The AP-GfK surveyors also determined that of the 1,334 respondents 41 percent think the ACA will undergo minor changes, while 31 percent anticipate major changes and only 11 percent expect no changes at all.

Those findings appear to be indicative of what respondents believe will happen, not necessarily what they want to occur.

[See also: Voters divided on healthcare issues and ACA repeal]

“Overall, the poll found Americans divided on the question of repeal, with neither side able to claim a majority,” the Associated Press-GfK reported. “Forty-nine percent said the healthcare law should be repealed completely, while 44 percent said it should be implemented as written.”

However unlikely the reality that the ACA will be implemented verbatim, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that only a quarter of respondents 55 years and older are hoping Medicare will change. Among younger voters, which Kaiser categorized as between 18 and 54, however, half want to keep Medicare as it is, while 44 percent would rather switch to a premium support model.

“The age gap is somewhat ironic, because those who are most opposed to the proposed new system would be least affected,” Kaiser Health News wrote in Younger Americans More Receptive to GOP Medicare Plan. “Ryan’s plan would exempt those over 55 and allow them to remain in traditional Medicare, a feature supported by Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate. Nonetheless, this carve out has not won over the elderly – who are among the most reliable voting blocs – the poll shows.”

In another twist, Kaiser asked Democrats under age 55 about the Republican’s approach, but intentionally did not associate it with the GOP – 44 percent supported it.

Both the AP-GfK and Kaiser surveys determined that participants are quite evenly split on the matter of healthcare, though Americans don’t necessarily understand the ACA or proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

“The poll found that knowledge of what’s in the law remains weak,” Kaiser Health News wrote. “Less than half of those polled knew about components such as closing the Medicare prescription drug ‘doughnut hole’ and making affluent people pay more in premiums and payroll taxes for Medicare. Only 39 percent are confident that the law does not include government ‘death panels’ that make decisions about end-of-life care.”

The death panel myth put forth by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is but one common and lingering misperception. The AP-GfK researchers gauged Americans by asking whether 18 items were in the law, and then to indicate their certainty about those answers. “Just 14 percent were right most of the time and sure of it,” the AP-GfK wrote. “Still, knowledge about what the law actually does is growing. More people are aware of provisions that allow adult children to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26, impose insurance mandates on individuals and businesses, and protect those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

For more politics coverage, visit Political Malpractice: Healthcare in the 2012 Election.


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