Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, College of Sciences and Humanities
June 9, 2014
Indiana residents may be slowly warming up to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with strong majorities supporting the five key components of the legislation, including the mandate to buy insurance, says a new study from Ball State University.
“Health Care Reform: Understanding Individuals’ Attitudes and Information Sources,” recently published by BioMed Research International, surveyed 600 people over 2010-12 to find that 44 percent of Hoosiers were in favor of health care reform in 2012 as compared to 36 percent in 2010.
“Our survey found that over the last few years, Indiana residents are still split on the overall issue of the ACA,” said study lead author Carolyn Shue, a communication studies professor. “Yet, it’s important to remember that the majority of Indiana residents support the main ideas of health care reform. The issue remains politically charged, as evidenced by our findings.”
The study found support for the ACA’s five key components:
• 93 percent believed affordable health care coverage was important, down from 96 percent in 2010.
• 81 percent supported ensuring coverage for everyone, up from 80 percent in 2010.
• 90 percent believed insurance companies should cover pre-existing conditions, down from 91 percent in 2010.
• 77 percent said children should be covered until age 26, up from 69 percent in 2010.
• 63 percent supported the individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance in 2012. (It was the first time the component was included in the survey.)
The study also found that insured Indiana residents were more likely to visit a physician in the last 12 months than those who were uninsured, 89 percent compared to 54 percent in 2012.
Researchers found Indiana residents who relied on national news for information about health care reform held more favorable views of the Affordable Care Act than those who did not. The top four sources contributing most to respondents’ opinions were national news programs, websites, family members and their own reading of the legislation.
“We found that females, non-whites, Democrats, and insured individuals were more likely to have a general favorable attitude towards health care reform,” said study co-author Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor. “The national news media is able to provide a necessary first interpretation of the legislation that then enables individuals to process the ideas and formulate opinions.
“While more research is needed into the cause of the inconsistent attitudes toward the ACA as a whole versus its key components, it is clear the national news media continues to be a powerful influence on public opinion.”
Shue points out that nationwide, and in Indiana specifically, the inconsistency in attitudes must be addressed if health care reform and subsequent policies are to be successful.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision upholding much of the ACA, states will need to move forward with an implementation plan. The plan must include clearly communicating to the citizenry how specific elements of the ACA align with their current views, she said.
“It is important to understand a citizenry’s attitudes concerning health care legislation and what contributes to those attitudes,” Shue said. “Failure to do so will result in energies focused on fighting health care policies versus determining how best to meet the health care needs of the public.”