10 Reasons Most People Like Obamacare Once They Know What's Really In It
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There are two Affordable Care Acts. There's the legislation passed by Congress in 2009, and then there's the mythical Affordable Care Act – the perfidious “government takeover” decried and demagogued by so many conservatives (and quite a few liberals). The former is quite popular, the latter gets decidedly mixed reviews.
Don't take my word for it. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found Americans split down the middle, with 41 percent approving of the law, and 40 percent saying they didn't like it ( PDF). But then Kaiser asked about 12 specific provisions in the legislation, and found that, on average, 63 percent of respondents approved of the nuts and bolts of Obamacare. Of the 12 measures they tested, only one – the controversial mandate to carry health insurance or pay a penalty – received the approval of less than half of Americans (35 percent).
Or consider this divide: while only 12 percent of Republicans had a positive view of the law overall, 47 percent, on average, viewed its specifics favorably.
And here's the kicker: Kaiser found that the most popular parts of the law were also the ones most Americans weren't aware of, and vice-versa. Almost everyone knows about the mandate, which most people don't like, but fewer than half of those polled knew about the law's tax credits for small businesses that offer their employees coverage, a provision that eight out of 10 people liked when they heard about it.
None of this should come as a surprise, given the level of mendacity of the law's opponents. If the Affordable Care Act did in fact feature “ death panels,” resulted in deep cuts to Medicare, represented a " massive” tax increase and “ Sovietized” our healthcare system, nobody would support it. Fortunately, none of that bears any resemblance to reality.
Obviously, the law should be judged on what it actually contains, but according to Kaiser, six in 10 say they don't have enough information about the details to understand how it will impact them personally. So here, in no particular order, are 10 things you may not know about the Affordable Care Act.
1. People Will Be Getting Checks
Call it a crazy hunch, but my guess is that the law will look a lot less tyrannical when people start getting checks in the mail to help pay for their insurance.
Folks making up to four times the federal poverty line will be eligible for subsidies. In 2012, that would mean a family of four making up to $92,200 (it's a bit higher in Alaska) would see some cash.
Those subsidies will come in the form of “advanceable” tax credits, meaning that people won't have to wait until they pay their taxes to get the cash, and they'll be fully refundable, so those who don't pay enough in federal income taxes will get a check in the mail from the IRS.
2. The Richest Americans Are Going to Pay More Taxes
Wealthy investors are outraged, but most people probably don't know that a 3.8% surcharge on investment income – dividends and capital gains -- kicks in this January for everyone with an adjusted gross income of over $200,000 ($250,000 for joint filers). So those currently enjoying the lowest rate on investments in our nation's history will pay for a decent chunk of the bill.
3. Insurers' Overhead – and Profit Margins -- Are Limited
For the past 18 months or so, insurers have been required to spend 85 percent of the premiums they collect on healthcare (80 percent for individual and small-group plans). If they spend less than that, they have to send their customers a rebate to cover the difference.