Supporters demonstrate in favor of the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on the health care overhaul. (SEIU International: Flickr)
Supporters demonstrate in favor of the Affordable Care Act on June 28, 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on the health care overhaul. (SEIU International: Flickr)

While Americans as a whole remain sharply divided over the Affordable Care Act, a majority of California voters — 54 percent — support the federal health care overhaul, a new Field Poll shows. Just over a third of Californians — 37 percent — oppose the law.

This strong support is not terribly surprising in a heavily Democratic state. In addition, more than one in five Californians is uninsured. Support for the health care overhaul is two-to-one among those without insurance or people who say they or a family member has gone without coverage in the last two years.

The Field Poll also dug into the nitty-gritty of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, specifically the Health Benefit Exchange, an online marketplace where people will be able to shop for health insurance. California was the first state to pass legislation to commence setting up an exchange. Starting next fall, people will begin enrolling for coverage that will begin January 1, 2014.

While only 17 percent of those surveyed were aware of the Exchange, nearly three-fourths of respondents (74 percent) said a website for comparison shopping would help them.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

In terms of how the exchange would work, a majority of voters (59 percent) want it to require insurance companies to offer more health plans that give primary-care doctors a bigger role in coordinating care for patients.

“That is a fantastic finding,” said Diana Bontá, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation and a trained nurse. “That is a sentiment that isn’t coming from government study but from the voice of the people.”

The poll also found that 52 percent of the respondents want insurance companies to structure their plans to reward doctors and hospitals more for their quality of care rather than the number of people they treat.

Fabeola Greer, a 64-year-old warehouse production worker in Oakland who was part of the survey, would use the insurance exchange “so long as you could compare prices easily.”

Like many Californians, Greer has insurance through her employer. But she worries about her children, both in their thirties, who don’t have coverage. “There are a lot of people like that who don’t have it,” she said.

This poll is in the sixth annual health policy survey sponsored by The California Wellness Foundation. This year’s poll is based on telephone interview with 1,579 registered voters, conducted in seven languages and dialects — English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog. The survey was conducted in July, after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision largely upholding the Affordable Care Act.

Field Poll: Strong Statewide Support for Health Care Law 21 August,2012Lisa Aliferis


Lisa Aliferis

Lisa Aliferis is the founding editor of KQED’s State of Health blog. Since 2011, she’s been writing and editing stories for the site. Before taking up blogging, she toiled for many years (more than we can count) producing health stories for television, including Dateline NBC and San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV. She also wrote up a handy guide to the Affordable Care Act, especially for Californians. Her work has been honored for many awards. Most recently she was a finalist for “Best Topical Reporting” from the Online News Association. You can follow her on Twitter: @laliferis

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