Americans Divided Over Historic Health Reform Law

Most support expanding insurance, but they don’t know how the changes will affect them

NORWALK, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The new health care reform package signed into law by President Barack Obama last month continues to polarize U.S. adults, with 42 percent supporting it and 44 percent opposing it.

The number one reason for that opposition: 81 percent think the law makes the wrong changes. And, 39 percent say the law would be “bad” for people like them, while 26 percent aren't sure.

These are the major findings in a just-released poll of 2,285 adults surveyed online between April 14 and 16 by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms, and HealthDay, a leading producer and syndicator of health news.

Americans did come together – by a 58 percent to 24 percent majority – to agree that the legislation will provide many more people with health insurance. By 2019, an additional 32 million uninsured individuals will gain coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Another key feature is the legislation allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plan until age 26, and that change takes effect this year.

"The public is divided partly because of ideological reasons, partly because of partisanship and partly because most people don’t see this as benefiting them. They see it as benefiting the uninsured," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, a service of Harris Interactive.

Obama said his plan would "bring down the cost of health care for millions of families, businesses, and the federal government." But some have questioned the legislation's cost-containment provisions.

The poll found that more people think the plan will be bad for containing the cost of health care (41 percent to 35 percent), for strengthening the economy (42 percent to 29 percent), and for the quality of care in America (40 percent to 34 percent).


Jan. 2009 – Jan. 2010: “Even if you don’t know the details of his plan, how do you feel about President Obama’s proposals for health care reform?”

April 2010: “Even if you don’t know the details of health care reforms, how do you feel about the health care reform bill that has been signed by President Obama?”

Base: All Adults




















%   %   %   %   %   %   %   %   %
Support (NET) 50   42   49   49   45   40   43   43   42
Support strongly 25   20   24   26   23   23   19   20   20
Support somewhat 26   21   25   23   22   17   25   23   22
Oppose (NET) 20   38   40   41   45   41   45   49   44
Oppose somewhat 9   12   11   13   14   10   13   14   13
Oppose strongly 12   27   29   29   31   31   32   35   31
Not sure 29   20   11   10   11   18   11   9   14
Support minus oppose +30   +4   +9   +8   -   -1   -2   -6   -2
Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.
November 2009 data is from Clarabridge/Harris Poll


“Even if you don’t know the details of health care reform, how do you feel about the health care reform bill that has now been signed by President Obama? Do you . . .?”

Base: All Adults

      Total Party Identification
  Republican   Democrat   Independent
  %   %   %   %
Support Health Care Reform Bill (NET)   42   10   70   39
Support strongly   20   2   39   16
Support somewhat   22   8   30   24
Oppose Health Care Reform Bill (NET)   44   82   16   48
Oppose somewhat   13   17   9   14
Oppose strongly   31   65   7   34
Not sure   14   8   14   13

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


“Which one of the following reasons, if any, best describes the primary reason you oppose the health care reform bill?”

Base: All who opposes health care reform bill

        Total   Party Identification
  Republican   Democrat   Independent
  %   %   %   %
It makes the wrong changes   81   84   63   83
It makes too many changes   11   11   18   10
It doesn’t make enough changes   4   3   8   2
Not sure   4   2   11   5


“Even if you don’t know the details of his plan, do you believe that President Obama’s proposals for health care reforms, if implemented, would be good or bad for…?”

Base: All adults

                Good   Bad   Not Sure
The quality of medical care in America Jan 2009   %   47   20   33
July 2009   %   35   36   25
  April 2010   %   34   40   25
People like you Jan 2009   %   45   18   36
July 2009   %   34   34   32
  April 2010   %   35   39   26
Containing the cost of health care Jan 2009   %   49   18   33
July 2009   %   39   32   30
  April 2010   %   35   41   24
Providing many more people with adequate health insurance Jan 2009   %   61   11   29
July 2009   %   52   22   26
  April 2010   %   58   24   18
Strengthening the economy Jan 2009   %   42   19   39
July 2009   %   30   35   35
  April 2010   %   29   42   29
Making health care more cost-effective Jan 2009   %   54   16   31
July 2009   %   42   30   27
  April 2010   %   41   38   21

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


“How would you rate the job each of the following did in the debate about health care reform?”

Base: All adults

            Good   Bad   Not Sure
President Obama   %   40   48   12
The Democrats in Congress   %   25   59   16
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi   %   23   58   20
The Republicans in Congress   %   18   68   16

Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.


This survey was conducted online within the United States March 11 to 15, 2010 among 2,389 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About HealthDay

HealthDay, a division of Scout News LLC, is a leading producer and syndicator of evidence-based health news for consumers and physicians and is the largest syndicator of that news to Internet sites. Its consumer health news service ( appears on more than 5,000 Web sites such as Yahoo!, MSN, iVillage, US News & World Report, hundreds of hospitals and hospital group Web sites, as well as print publication Web sites across the country. HealthDay also produces Physician's Briefing (, a news service for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals updated twice daily providing 15 articles a day across 27 medical specialties. HealthDay also provides custom content for major health portals. The newest addition to the HealthDay portfolio is HealthDay TV.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

©2010 Harris Interactive All rights reserved.

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Harris Interactive
Alyssa Hall, 212-539-9600
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Connecticut

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Seniors  Women  Health  Public Policy/Government  Public Policy  White House/Federal Government  Consumer  Family  General Health  Men  Managed Care



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