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June 2021

What Do People Really Think of Obamacare?

Throughout the course of the election, Obamacare continued to make headlines as the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, vowed to keep it in place and the Republican candidate and now President, Donald Trump, promised to repeal and replace it. Public opinion was of course divided on the matter, as it always is with every major political issue. In 2015, 53% of Americans did not approve of Obamacare, however a more recent poll shows that only 30% of Americans believe the entire act should be repealed.

But all the chatter about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) reminded us of a segment from 2013 produced by one of the hard-hitting journalists of late night television. No, we’re not talking about Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer, we’re referring to Jimmy Kimmel.

In 2013, in the midst of a major government shutdown in part due to conflict over the ACA, Jimmy Kimmel sent a reporter to the streets of Los Angeles to interview average citizens and find out what everyday people truly thought of the ACA. Except, he didn’t just ask what they thought of the ACA; he asked people if they preferred the ACA or Obamacare. Obviously, the ACA and Obamacare are one in the same, but would the average person walking down the streets of Los Angeles know that? The results are surprising—not to mention hilarious.

Most people did not hesitant when asked to choose one or the other, and when asked why they made the decision that they did, they were quick to come up with reasons why the plan they chose was better than the other. While you read some of these answers, keep reminding yourself that Obamacare and ACA are the exact same thing so you can see the humor as Jimmy Kimmel and his team did.

“I just don’t agree with the whole Obamacare policy thing that’s going on…I just don’t agree with it.”

“I do not like Obamacare. I don’t like anything that has to be forced for everybody to buy.”

“I just think that there’s a lot of holes in [Obamacare] and it needs to be revamped. It hasn’t been thought out.”

“I’m more sort of towards the Affordable Care Act, I’m mostly sympathetic to people who don’t have the ability to have proper medical insurance.”

“I think it’s nice that everyone can afford it. Everyone should be able to afford it. But [with Obamacare], to force people to pay something and doctors to make something, limiting their ability to do their job, is kind of anti-American.”

In one particular exchange, the interviewer even got the interviewee to classify one plan as un-American and the other as American, despite them being the same exact policy:

“So Obamacare is un-American?”

“I think it’s kind of un-American to force people…what if they can’t afford it?”

“And the Affordable Care Act is American?”

“I think it’s more American because it allows people to make their own choices on what they want and who they want to work with.”

It’s important to note that most people who were interviewed chose the ACA, and based on their responses, it’s clear they chose this option based on its name alone. The ACA gives off the impression that it’s helpful to those who are in need and is available to all. In fact, one person even went as far as agreeing that Obamacare was a socialist plan, but did not feel the same way towards the ACA. Another said “just the name says it all” when discussing the advantages of the ACA over Obamacare.

While the ACA sounds like a law that helps the needy, Obamacare could give off the impression that it’s just another piece of legislation on a politician’s agenda. If someone doesn’t necessarily like Obama or his values, they could be biased towards any legislation with his name on it. For example, the interviewer asked one person, “Do you believe Obamacare will eventually lead to gun prohibition?” Clearly, there is no link between healthcare and gun control, but that didn’t stop the woman from quickly and firmly saying, “Yes.” It’s possible she could have assumed anything with Obama’s name on it would eventually lead to more restrictive gun controls, but your guess is as good as ours when it comes to interpreting some of these responses. It’s safe to say these people were never taught not to judge a book by its cover—but good to know that branding is important even when it comes to naming legislative acts!

The interviewer went one step forward with some interviewees and began asking them their thoughts on certain matters related to healthcare. Unbeknownst to the interviewees, the interviewer was asking their opinion on certain types of coverage provided by Obamacare/ACA. One man who said he did not agree with Obamacare was then asked:

  • “Do you think insurance companies should be able to exclude people with preexisting conditions?”
  • “Do you agree that young people should be able to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26?”
  • “Do you agree that companies with 50 or more employees should provide healthcare?

The man—who just moments before expressed his disapproval of Obamacare—said yes to all of the questions above. His support of these policies indicates he may be a bigger fan of Obamacare/ACA than he originally thought—if only he had taken the time to learn about it before jumping to a conclusion.

This video segment is good for a few laughs, but of course, it indicates that there is most definitely a need for more education on Obamacare. Everyone should understand what options they have when it comes to healthcare, and the first step in making this happen is helping people understand the difference (or lack thereof) between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act!