By Lisa Zamosky
Later this month, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearings on whether or not the health reform law’s requirement that nearly all Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine – the so-called “individual mandate” – is constitutional. A decision is expected by the end of June, 2012.
According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, if the decision about whether this central feature of the law should stay or go was up to the American public, the mandate would surely be overturned. The February poll, which sampled more than 1,000 American adults over the age of 18, found that 72% of Americans believe the mandate to be unconstitutional.
Americans are also split right down the middle about whether or not Congress made the right move in passing the Affordable Care Act in the first place: 45% say it was the right thing to do, while 44% say it shouldn’t have happened.
A whopping 87% of Republicans think the entire law should be overturned; 77% of Democrats say repealing the law is not the way to go.
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
What remains most interesting, and perhaps unfortunate, is that overwhelmingly, Americans don’t find any value in the law or believe that it ultimately will impact their lives. According to the poll, 70% of Americans say the law has not had an effect on them personally, and they aren’t optimistic that it will make their family’s healthcare situation better in the long run. A whopping 38% actually expect the law will worsen their current situation.
One of the many criticisms launched against the Affordable Care Act is the way in which it’s being rolled out. The biggest impact of the law – extending health insurance to approximately 30 million people – doesn’t go into effect until 2014.
Still, a recent study by the government shows that 105 million Americans are being protected by the law’s elimination of lifetime insurance benefit limits. Over 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance because they can now stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. About 900,000 seniors on Medicare who hit the Part D gap in prescription drug coverage called the “donut hole” saved money last year because of discounts on prescription drugs. And free preventive care for people with both private insurance and Medicare became available, with more than 20 million Medicare recipients taking advantage of free preventive services last year.
One of the main challenges the law faces is that it’s never been well understood. And now, with the Supreme Court hearings scheduled to begin in just a few weeks, the parts of the law Americans find objectionable, as well as those that have thus far been popular, are on the chopping block.
Constitutional or Not?
By far the provision that has received the most attention is the individual mandate.
Should all Americans be required to have health insurance? Put your Supreme Court hat on and sound off in the comment section below.
Click here to return to our coverage of the Supreme Court hearings.