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Americans Remain Divided on "Obamacare"

Americans Remain Divided on "Obamacare"

Story Highlights

  • Half of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act
  • Those with preexisting conditions more likely to approve
  • 84% of Democrats approve; 87% of Republicans disapprove

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans continue to give the Affordable Care Act a split decision, with 50% telling Gallup they approve of the healthcare law brought about by President Barack Obama, and 48% saying they disapprove.

Line graph. Americans’ opinions on the Affordable Care Act since November 2012.

The latest data are from a Gallup poll conducted Nov. 1-14.

Since Gallup first asked about the Affordable Care Act with this wording in 2012, public opinion has gone through three general phases.

  • More Americans disapproved than approved of the law from 2013 to 2016, spanning the ACA's troubled website rollout and uncertainty about the law's survival because of various legal challenges in federal court.

  • Attitudes flipped to more Americans approving than disapproving throughout 2017 as Republicans tried to repeal the law at the start of Donald Trump's presidency. This was mainly attributable to increased support from Democrats and independents throughout the year.

  • A third phase has been evident since November 2018, in which Americans have been evenly divided on the law.

Line graph. Americans’ approval of the Affordable Care Act, by political affiliation.

Support for ACA Higher Among Those With Preexisting Conditions

While the sharp differences in ACA ratings along political party lines are well established, Gallup also finds that those who report having private insurance are as likely as those on a Medicaid or Medicare plan to say they approve of the ACA.

Also, Americans who report having a long-term illness or disease that a health insurance company would consider a "preexisting condition" are more likely to approve of the ACA (55%) than those who do not suffer from such a condition (49%).

ACA Views by Party ID and Insurance Circumstance
Approve Disapprove
% %
Party ID
Republican 11 87
Independent 53 44
Democrat 84 15
Insurance circumstance
Medicaid/Medicare 50 47
Private insurance 50 48
Preexisting condition (self) 55 43
No preexisting condition 49 50
Gallup, Nov. 1-14, 2019

Bottom Line

The ACA continues to divide Americans. In the early years after its troubled rollout in 2014, the law failed to receive approval from most Americans. While the law enjoyed a brief period of majority approval while Trump and the Republicans unsuccessfully tried to repeal it, 2018 and 2019 have shown a more divided outlook among the public on the law commonly known as "Obamacare." Despite claims that the law would somehow break the private insurance market, Americans with private as well as publicly funded healthcare plans equally approve, and disapprove, of the ACA.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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