As President Donald Trump and Congressional lawmakers make plans for the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the results of a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation suggest that a majority of Americans either do not want the ACA to be fully repealed, or want Congress to refrain from repealing it until a replacement plan is ready.

The survey of 1,204 adults was conducted on December 13-19, 2016. When asked whether Congress should repeal the ACA, 47% said they think Congress should not vote to repeal the law; 28% said Congress should repeal the ACA, but not until the details of a replacement plan have been announced; and 20% said that Congress should vote to repeal the law immediately, and work out the details of a replacement plan later.

The findings also indicated that repealing the ACA falls behind other health care priorities the respondents believe President Trump and the Congress should act on. When asked to name their top priorities in the area of health care, 67% of respondents cited lowering the amount individuals pay for health care, 61% said lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and 45% cited dealing with the prescription painkiller addiction epidemic. By contrast, just 37% of respondents named repealing the ACA as a top priority. Even smaller shares said that decreasing how much the Federal government spends on health care over time (35%) and decreasing the role of the Federal government in health care (35%) should be top priorities.

When presented with two general approaches to the future of health care in the U.S., 62% of survey respondents said they prefer “guaranteeing a certain level of health coverage and financial help for seniors and lower-income Americans, even if it means more Federal health spending and a larger role for the Federal government;” while 31% of respondents said they prefer the approach of “limiting Federal health spending, decreasing the Federal government’s role, and giving state governments and individuals more control over health insurance, even if this means some seniors and lower-income Americans would get less financial help than they do today.”

The survey also asked respondents to predict how their health care will change if the ACA is repealed. More than half of the adults polled said they believe the quality of their own health care (57%) and their own ability to get and keep health insurance (55%) will stay about the same if the law is repealed, while a smaller share (43%) said they believe the cost of health care for both them and their family will stay about the same if the ACA is repealed. Of those respondents who said they anticipate changes, around half said they believe their situation will get better, while the other half said they believe their situation will get worse.

Of the respondents who reported that someone in their household has a pre-existing health condition (56% of the sample), 33% said they believe the cost of health care for them and their family will rise if the ACA is repealed, compared to about 22% of the respondents who said they do not have a family member with a pre-existing condition. The respondents with a pre-existing condition in their family were also more likely than those not affected by a pre-existing condition to say they believe their ability to get and keep health insurance will deteriorate (24% vs. 17%), and that the quality of their own health care will get worse (21% vs. 15%).

From Benefit Trends Newsletter, Volume 60, Issue 3

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