Almost as many Kentuckians support health reform as oppose it, but half say they don’t know how it may affect them

By Al Cross and Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The federal health-reform law is gaining support from Kentuckians, to the point that they are almost evenly divided about it.

Those are among the results of the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll, conducted for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky among a random sample of almost 1,600 Kentucky adults Oct. 8 through Nov. 6, the final month of an election season in which the law was an issue.

After two years in which opinion of the law was clearly unfavorable, the poll found that 39 percent view it favorably while 41 percent view it unfavorably. That is well within the poll’s error margin of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, which applies to both numbers.

The findings are similar to a national survey taken at about the same time. The October 2014 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that 36 percent of U.S. adults had favorable views of the law; 43 percent were unfavorable, and 20 percent did not know or offered no opinion.

In the Kentucky poll, about as many people reported a negative impact from the law (21 percent) as a positive impact (18 percent). The positive-impact number rose form 7 percent in the 2013 poll, which was taken just after enrollment for expanded Medicaid and subsidized health insurance had opened.

Notably, 51 percent of those polled said they didn’t have enough information to know how the law would affect them personally. That was down from 57 percent a year earlier.

Most of those who reported not having enough information, 64 percent, had not graduated from high school. Almost half of Kentuckians (47 percent) said they understood how the law would impact them personally. Sixty-six percent said the law had no effect on them.

“KHIP data trends show overall support for the ACA has risen since 2013 as more Kentuckians have gotten information about the law,” Susan Zepeda, President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a press release. “More work is needed to educate people about the law’s provisions and potential impacts on families.”

The poll was also conducted for Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. It used landline and cell phones.

Opinions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, are still driven partly by politics. The survey found that 58 percent of Democrats had favorable views of the law and 64 of Republicans had unfavorable views. Among independents, 42 percent had unfavorable views and 31 percent were favorable.

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