Those of us who follow politics closely sometimes like to believe that everyone else is following along as closely as we do. That the ins and outs of the daily political soap opera matter to Americans as a whole. Ours is, after all, a participatory form of government, and we’d like to think that most of our fellow citizens have at least a loose grip on what’s going on.
Except, time after time, things like polls indicate that most Americans are tuned out. Case in point, this poll indicates that a strong majority of Americans had no idea that a deadline for an individual health insurance mandate that applies to every single American, that is part of the most controversial and debate raft of policy passed in the last decade, is looming.
Or, more accurately, was looming before the Obama administration’s decision to delay it last night.
…according to the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of those without coverage still don’t know that.
The survey, conducted between March 11 and 17th, found that 39 percent of the uninsured between ages 18 and 64 did know that March 31 is the deadline to sign up for individual health insurance this year. Forty-three percent didn’t know that date, and 18 percent thought the deadline was later or had already passed.
Possibly even more ominous for those supporting the law, half of those uninsured people surveyed said they are likely to remain uninsured this year, even though that could leave them subject to a fine. Forty percent said they planned to get coverage.
I can add an anecdote to this. A week or so ago a friend of mine from Fargo sent me a message on Facebook asking if I knew anything about this individual mandate going into effect. She wondered if it meant she had to buy health insurance for herself. This is not a stupid person. This is a successful, busy person who is aware of the political brawl over Obamacare but until just recently thought it didn’t really have anything to do with her.
Maybe this is why Obamacare hasn’t had a more drastic impact on Democrats and their election outcomes, despite Republicans working long and hard to make Obamacare not just a issue but the issue. Maybe most Americans really have no idea just how dramatically an impact this law has on them personally.
Which also might explain why President Obama and Democrats are so eager to keep delaying aspects of the law from taking effect before the election.