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Americans credit ACA on access

Staff Writer |
Nearly four years after key provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect, most U.S. adults say the law has been successful in expanding access to healthcare coverage.

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However, they are divided on whether it has reduced healthcare costs for Americans.

President Barack Obama signed the healthcare reform act - also known as "Obamacare" - into law in 2010. Beginning in 2014, the law required Americans to carry health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

To facilitate access to insurance, the law set up health insurance exchanges that offered subsidies for many Americans. Republicans in Congress have tried, unsuccessfully, to repeal the law in recent years.

Consistent with measurements by Gallup and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of U.S. adults who lack insurance has declined significantly since the individual mandate requiring Americans to have coverage took effect in 2014.

wo-thirds of Americans appear to be aware of this, saying the law has been either "very successful" (23%) or "somewhat successful" (42%) in expanding Americans' access to healthcare coverage.

The perceived impact of the law on consumers' healthcare costs gets mixed reviews. Many Americans are now able to get government subsidies to help pay for their insurance.

But the premiums for plans sold on the health insurance exchanges have greatly increased in many markets, and those who are ineligible for subsidies are now paying more for those plans. Also, insurance plans today commonly have high deductibles that consumers must pay before receiving any benefits.

Americans' assessments of the law on the cost dimension are divided -- 47% say it has been very (9%) or somewhat successful (38%) in reducing the cost of healthcare for Americans, while 50% say it has been very (29%) or somewhat unsuccessful (21%).

Consistent with the strongly partisan attitudes about the law in general, Republicans' and Democrats' perceptions of the law's effects also differ significantly.

But all party groups are more likely to believe the law has expanded access to coverage than to believe it has reduced costs.

Specifically, 86% of Democrats versus 37% of Republicans say the law has been successful in expanding access to coverage. Two-thirds of independents (67%) believe the law has expanded access.

On costs, 72% of Democrats believe the law has succeeded in reducing costs, with 49% of independents and 12% of Republicans sharing that view. Nearly nine in 10 Republicans say the law has been unsuccessful in reducing costs.

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