Since the incredibly rocky launch of HealthCare.gov, the site, its associated services, and the Affordable Care Act itself have all been met with general unpopularity. The rollout of the website in October of 2013 was riddled with issues, rendering it useless to the majority of users, but the problems didn’t begin or end with the badly put-together site.
Disapproval for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare to some, began as soon as the law itself started to be considered. During the 2012 presidential election, President Obama used the act to support his reelection, and while his supporters stood behind the policy, those who disagreed with the Affordable Care Act were equally passionate. After the president was reelected, the policy stayed in effect. The Affordable Care Act, designed to make health insurance affordable to most everyone, was originally passed in December of 2009 and signed into law the following March.
The law (and the president who championed this new policy) received boosted support after the law was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2012. At three points during 2012, the policy was actually supported by a majority of people. This was a huge shot in the arm for a policy that had seen nothing but disapproval in the two years preceding its partial acceptance.
As 2013 approached, it seemed like the law was still gaining popularity. The penalty for no health insurance is sometimes no treatment, so the general public was warming up to the Affordable Care Act steadily, and at its height of popularity, the public was pretty evenly split on the issue, but once the website launched, everything began to fall apart.
The site was not only intended to be a digital marketplace for people to shop for healthcare, but the only place to do so. This was the first time that a United States law had depended so heavily on the Internet, and although millions of people attempted to use the site, only 6 of them were able to successfully enroll in health insurance plans on launch day. The website launch was a complete disaster, plagued with broken links, dead ends, and a glitch that forced users to tell HealthCare.gov how long they’d been in prison, even if they’d never been arrested.
After the website controversy, public opinion of the policy took a nosedive. In January of 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Health Tracking Poll showed that 50% of Americans held unfavorable views about the law, while only 34% of people had favorable opinions. This is also when the law hit its lowest approval rate, and although improvement has begun, it’s extremely slow.
One of the main reasons for the decline was a loss of Democrat support. In November of 2012, the policy was enjoying a high point of approval, but just three months later, support began to dwindle. By October of 2013, Democrats supported the policy almost as strongly as they originally had in November 2012, but a month later, the botched website launch caused a huge drop in approval that the policy has yet to recover from.
How do you feel about the website’s rocky start? Do you see HealthCare.gov as a one-stop-shop for healthcare or a restriction? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.