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42% Favor Individual Health Care Mandate, 43% Oppose

Monday, January 20, 2014

Most voters have opposed the new national health care law’s individual mandate in past surveys, but voters are now evenly divided when asked whether the federal government should force every American to have health insurance.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 42% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the government should require every American to buy or obtain health insurance, up from 33% in mid-December. But now only 43% oppose the individual mandate, down 15 points from a high of 58% last month. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Most voters have opposed the mandate from the start, and a high of 69% said in November 2011 that the government does not have the constitutional authority to force everyone to buy or obtain health insurance. In late June 2012, however, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care law’s constitutionality.

Democratic support for requiring every American to have health insurance remains unchanged from December at 56%. But Republican opposition has dropped from 84% last month to 64% now. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, just 47% now oppose the individual mandate, compared to 62% in December. Future surveys will determine whether this marks a change of heart among longtime opponents of Obamacare or is merely statistical noise.

Because of the problems surrounding the rollout of the health care law since October 1, the Obama administration announced just before Christmas that this individual mandate will be delayed for several months for some Americans.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of all voters are now aware whether their state has a health insurance exchange as provided for by the new health care law. Awareness has been steadily growing from a low of 32% this time last year.

Twelve percent (12%) also now say either they or an immediate family member have purchased health insurance through a health care exchange. This, too, has been steadily growing from four percent (4%) in November, one month after the exchanges first opened, to eight percent (8%) in December. 

Essentially unchanged from surveys since late 2011 are the 37% who favor a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone. Nearly half (48%) remain opposed to a government-run health care system. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on January 17-18, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters continue to view the health care law unfavorably, down only slightly from November’s all-time high of 58%.

Men oppose the health insurance requirement more strongly than women do. Younger voters continue to be more supportive of the mandate than their elders.

Just over half (51%) of blacks support the individual mandate, while 46% of whites and other minority voters oppose it. Higher-income voters are bigger fans of the mandate than those who earn less.

Tea Party voters are twice as likely as those not affiliated with the grass roots movement to oppose the mandate.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of the Political Class favor requiring every American to have health insurance. Fifty percent (50%) of Mainstream voters are opposed. Seventy-one percent (71%) of Political Class voters also like the idea of a single-payer government-run health care system, but 58% of those in the Mainstream oppose it. 

Women and voters under 40 are more likely than men and those who are older to have signed up for health insurance through an exchange or to have an immediate family member who has done so. Twenty-three percent (23%) of blacks say they or a family member have gotten insurance through an exchange, compared to 11% of both whites and other minority voters.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of all voters have been following news stories about implementation of the health care law, with 55% who have been following Very Closely. 

In mid-December, 27% said their health insurance had changed because of the new health care law.

For the first time in nearly a year, fewer than 50% expect the health care system to get worse under Obamacare.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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