Americans are still pretty divided on the issue of health care reform, but the number of people who have generally favorable views of the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has increased seven percentage points in the last month, to 48%.
My guess is that people are starting to feel the real world effects of the bill and seeing the legislation in a more favorable light when it benefits them directly. Seniors who find themselves in the “donut hole” in their Medicare Part D prescription coverage started getting $250 checks last month. Colorado was one of the first states to get the new federally funded high risk pool up and running, but similar plans are coming online in all 50 states, and will make it easier for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance. The early retiree reinsurance program application became available to employers last month, and will make it easier for businesses to provide health insurance to their retiring workers who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Young adults are being allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy until they are 26. All of these programs are part of the health care reform legislation, and they all have a direct, favorable impact on individuals and businesses.
It will be interesting to watch public opinion of health care reform over the next few years. I imagine a lot of it will depend on what happens to premiums. If health insurance carriers can comply with the requirements of the new law without substantial premiums increases, we’ll probably see even more favorable public opinion of the law, especially once government subsidies kick in to help people pay for health insurance.