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Data Note: A Snapshot of Public Opinion on the Individual Mandate

For the two years since the law’s passage, and during the debate leading up to it, the individual mandate has been one of the most controversial aspects of the law. As the lawyers, policy makers, ACA opponents and supporters focus intently on the Supreme Court hearings, this Data Note looks at what the general public thinks of the mandate, explores the reasons why favorability ratings have been so low, and suggests that while opinion on the mandate has been fairly consistent over time, it also remains malleable, and basic factual information and messages can sway Americans’ opinion. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll has examined these issues over time, asking the public about their views of the law overall and digging deeper into its component parts, and this Data Note draws from several Kaiser surveys to highlight attitudes toward the individual mandate. While the precise share of the public with a favorable or unfavorable view of the individual mandate varies slightly between polls, each survey finds that overall sentiment is about two to one in opposition to the mandate. Data Note (.pdf)