It's true: A large number of consumers don't really understand the Affordable Care Act. Support for the law varies wildly along racial, political and insurance divides—and depending on what the legislation is called.
A Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll in July found the public's view of the law to be 37% favorable, 53% unfavorable. Drill that number down, however, and disparities start to emerge: Only 29% of consumers who identified as white have a favorable opinion of the law, but that number jumps to 59% for black consumers and 50% for Hispanics. As expected, the gulf is enormous between Democrats and Republicans, with only 12% of the latter favoring the law, compared to 62% of the former.
Further, do consumers even understand the sprawling law enough to make informed decisions about their coverage?
The answer appears to be "no." Not only do many consumers believe that there is only one plan option under the ACA, but support for the law varies widely based on the language used to describe it, suggesting that at least some consumers' opinions are partisan rather than informed. In a November 2013 poll, Gallup asked consumers to characterize their support for the law using four different wordings: mentioning "Affordable Care Act" and President Obama, mentioning neither Affordable Care Act nor President Obama (referring to the "healthcare law" instead), mentioning only "Obamacare" and mentioning only "Affordable Care Act."
Gallup concluded that the language had an impact on support: Only mentioning the Affordable Care Act garnered the highest support at 45%, while only mentioning Obamacare turned in a 38% approval rating. The other two wordings yielded 41% approval.
(Of course, if you watch Jimmy Kimmel, you already knew this.)