Poll: Republicans May Pay Obamacare Fine Just Because They're Republicans
Uninsured Republicans may be willing to pay the Obamacare fine instead of buying health insurance just because they're Republicans, a Gallup poll indicates.
If true, it makes a lot of sense why a state like Arizona, which has one of the highest rates of uninsured people in the nation, but also has a relatively low number of people buying insurance through the exchange established by the Affordable Care Act.
Gallup asked uninsured Republicans, Democrats, and independents nationwide if they plan on buying insurance and complying with the individual mandate, or paying the fine instead.
By a 58-38 percent margin, Republicans said they were going to take the fine. On the other side, uninsured Democrats are gung-ho about buying insurance, 75 percent to 18 percent who said they'd take the fine. A majority of independents also said they'd buy insurance, 52 percent, while 39 percent said they'd pay the fine.
Gallup also did this poll twice earlier this year, and found very, very similar results each time.
That leads to some speculation from Gallup:
The Affordable Care Act, as is evidenced by the popular sobriquet "Obamacare" tying it directly to a sitting president, remains highly political. Not only are Americans' attitudes about the law itself highly partisan, but so are uninsured Americans' self-reported intentions to sign up for the health insurance that the law requires.
If politics are prompting some uninsured Republicans to refuse to get insurance even in the face of having to pay a fine, this would likely be distressing for the law's proponents, who presumably would want Americans to consider the law on its merits rather than its political origins. The survey results suggest that one approach that might work for ACA advocates would be to shift the discussion away from politics, perhaps using high-profile apolitical public spokespeople and focusing on the law's merits rather than on the politics of those who oppose it.
That explanation is completely plausible.
Consider this: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 1.2 million people in Arizona are uninsured, around 800,000 are uninsured in Colorado, and 600,000 are uninsured in Wisconsin.
In 2012, Arizonans voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama by a 52-44 margin. Colorado picked Obama by a 49-47 margin, and Wisconsin picked Obama by a 50-46 margin.
According to the latest Obamacare enrollment figures, fewer than 58,000 Arizonans got insurance through the exchange, compared to more than 83,000 in Colorado (which has a state-run exchange), and more than 71,000 in Wisconsin.
So even though in Arizona, twice as many people could buy healthcare through the exchange than in Wisconsin, more people have purchased insurance in Wisconsin.
Gallup says it's going to look into this issue more next month, to "shed light on the demographic makeup and health status of those who are newly insured since January, focusing particularly on whether Democrats have been more likely than Republicans to sign up."
March 31 is the deadline to purchase insurance through the exchange.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.