Four in Ten Uninsured Americans Still Haven't Heard Anything About the Obamacare Exchanges

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Thirty-eight percent of uninsured Americans have heard "nothing at all" about the health law exchanges, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, support for the law has dropped 25 points among Democrats and 8 points among women, shifting the latter group distinctly against Obamacare. This comes just one day after a Gallup poll found that Americans respond more favorably to poll questions when asked about the Affordable Care Act, as opposed to Obamacare, proving just how important marketing is for the Obama administration. 

According to the Kaiser poll, only 29 percent of uninsured Americans have heard "a lot" or "some" about the exchanges, which is better than the 15 percent who felt that way in September, but still pretty abysmal. Only 42 percent of the general population has heard as much about the law. And what they have heard has been mostly about politics and controversies (53 percent) but mostly balanced (40 percent) or biased against the law (33 percent). 

What people haven't been hearing as much about is how the law will affect them personally. That might explain why 41 percent think the law won't affect them personally while 43 percent are convinced the law will hurt the country — a lot of the media coverage deals with individual rate shock stories, which focus on the small subset of middle class individuals on the private market. 

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Those polled tended to think the media's coverage was fair (40 percent) or biased against the law (33 percent). Most people (65 percent) say they closely followed stories about the's technical problems and people's dropped plans. The other 35 percent isn't paying much attention at all. Which means that, for all the bad press and flaws in Obamacare, the thing that will hurt enrollment the most is a lack of exposure among most Americans. As Gallup shows, the health care law polls 7 points higher when called the Affordable Care Act than when it's called Obamacare. It still gets a 49 percent disapproval rating, but even just calling it "the health care law" is better than saying Obamacare, which the White House has caught on to.

So, to succeed, Obamacare need to 1) work and 2) be generally seen as something that works. A good example might be Medicare Part D, which went from a 17 percent approval rating to, as of this November, 63 percent, according to Kaiser. It only took nine years. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.