New survey finds many Americans want changes to ACA but few support immediate repeal

According to a new national survey on Americans’ opinions on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 12 percent of Americans want the ACA kept in its current form, 40 percent say it should be preserved with improvements, 16 percent say the law should be repealed immediately, and 31 percent want a repeal to wait until a replacement is ready. While most Americans express a desire for change, few report being negatively impacted by the law, and nearly half say they haven’t been affected at all. Forty-six percent of Americans say they have not been personally affected by the law, while 27 percent say the law has improved their lives, and 26 percent say it has had a detrimental effect.

“It is clear that very few Americans want to keep the law as it currently is,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “However, there are many elements of the law that appear to be popular, and there is support for retaining those provisions in any replacement legislation that might be passed.”

Key findings from the poll include:

  • Fifty-three percent disagree with the new administration and say the health care law should remain. But only 12 percent of Americans support keeping the law as it is now; 40 percent would like to see changes to make it better. Nearly half of Americans, 46 percent, agree that the law should be repealed. However, 31 percent want to wait until a replacement law is ready, while only 16 percent want to see the law repealed immediately.
  • Even a majority of those who oppose the ACA support eliminating out-of-pocket costs for some preventive health care (70 percent), allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26 (65 percent), and protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions (60 percent).
  • The individual mandate that requires most Americans to be insured or pay a fine is the least popular element of the ACA, even among those who support it. Less than half (49 percent) of those who want the law to remain support the mandate, along with only 12 percent of those who want it repealed.
  • Despite provisions in the health care law that impact Americans regardless of their source of health insurance, 46 percent say they have not been personally affected by the law, and 26 percent say it has had a detrimental effect. Only 27 percent say the law has improved their lives.
  • Overall, 40 percent say the ACA has helped average Americans, 33 percent say it has hurt them, and 25 percent do not perceive any difference. Fifty-three percent say the health care law has helped low-income families, and 44 percent say it has been beneficial for women. But 41 percent say the law has hurt small businesses.
  • Fifty-six percent of Americans are extremely or very concerned that many people will lose their coverage if the health care law is repealed. And 49 percent expect the elimination of the ACA to be detrimental for most Americans; only 26 percent think it will be advantageous.
  • The idea of a government-financed single payer insurance program gets mixed support. Thirty-eight percent favor the concept, while 39 percent oppose it. Support drops to 24 percent when asked if a single payer system meant large increases in government spending.