American people like some parts of the health care law

A member of the surgical team looks down at the patient during a kidney transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital June 26, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jeremy Hobson: Well the healthcare law itself may be unpopular but parts of it are quite attractive to the American people, which brings us to our weekly segment Attitude Check, a partnership with Gallup.

Frank Newport is editor-in-chief at Gallup and he joins us now. Good morning.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Jeremy Hobson: Well Frank, let’s start out with some of the big pieces with the law. Let me ask you how Americans feel about them; first of all the most controversial part, the mandate that requires people to have health insurance.

Newport: Well, you put your finger on it. The most controversial part and that is the part that all of the polling that I’ve seen shows Americans are most negative about. We had over 7 out of 10 Americans who said they thought, putting themselves in the robes of the Supreme Court, that it was unconstitutional.

Other pollsters have asked about it in other ways and that always comes out with a majority negative about the individual mandate no matter how it’s explained to people. So that is the controversial element, the big element and the one the American public does not like the most.

Hobson: What about the part of the law that bans insurance companies from denying people coverage if they have so called, preexisting conditions. How do people feel about that?

Newport: They like that. A majority like that very much. In fact, most of the other provisions of the law, Americans like. But clearly they think that’s a good idea at least as it’s been explained to them in polls. So they think that’s fine.

Hobson: And I imagine people like the part of the law that allows kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26.

Newport: They do. And, you know, that’s one element where we actually find evidence in our Gallup tracking that it’s made a difference because we ask Americans everyday “do you have health insurance?” and we have seen a decline, a statically significant decline in the percent of 18 to 25-year-olds who are uninsured and at the same time 25 to 64-year-olds have exactly stayed the same, or actually more of them have become uninsured. So clearly, that’s having an impact and Americans think that’s a great idea.

Hobson: So it sounds like, people like the parts of the law that give them something and don’t like the part that makes them do something, is it as simple as that?

Newport: Well, nothing is as simple as it seems but that’s a pretty good explanation for it. Yeah, the mandate also has with it a kind of a big brother-ish aspect and keep in mind all of our data show Americans are very suspicious of big government, federal government; they don’t think it’s efficient and they’re worried about it. So, I think the mandate smacks of a larger kind of government intrusion in your life -- making you do something -- and that’s why there this big pullback from it, at least when we them ask about it in polls.

Hobson: Frank Newport is the editor-in-chief at Gallup. Thank you so much.

Newport: My pleasure.

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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