Poll: Health Care Reform Still Confusing

GENERIC healthcare health care capitol congress - Caduceus flag over capitol dome AP / CBS

Americans aren't sure about the implications of the health care reform legislation passed late Sunday by the House of Representatives, and they remain skeptical about whether the bill will help or hurt them.

In a CBS News poll conducted before the conclusion of Sunday's vote, a majority of Americans admitted they were still confused over how the reforms will affect them and their families. Just 42 percent said they had a good understanding of its likely impact.

There was a lot of confusion even among Democrats, who mostly supported the President's reform efforts. Just 37 percent of Democrats said they had a good understanding of the bill.

The confusion over reform - and the long-running health care debate - has not endeared Congress to the American public. The legislature's overall approval rating was near an all-time low.

Just 14 percent of Americans said they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, while 76 percent - the highest figure ever - said they disapprove. Approval of Congress has dropped 16 points during the past year.

More Coverage of Health Care Reform:

Health Care Debate Shows Ideological Split
House Passes Health Care Bill
Obama: "This is What Change Looks Like"
Health Care Vote: How Each Representative Voted
Announcement of the Vote
Boehner Tells Democrats: Shame on You
Pelosi Urges House to "Make History"
Health Care Bill: What's In It?
Short-Term Effect of the Bill
What, Me Worry? Obama Watches Basketball
Stupak Called "Baby Killer" for Backing Bill
CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

As has been the case throughout the health care debate, more Americans think the reform bill will hurt them (35 percent) than say it will help them personally (20 percent). The majority of those asked said they though the reform legislation was likely to no effect on them personally.

Young adults - the Americans least likely to have health insurance - are more convinced than older adults that the bill will help them. However, nearly half of them don't expect much change in their own situations.

Having health insurance is the dividing line when it comes to expectations for reform. By 39 to 25 percent, those without health coverage said the bill will help them personally, not hurt them. But among those with health coverage, the balance is reversed; 37 percent said the reforms will hurt them personally, while only 17 percent said they will help.

Americans have a difficult time looking ahead to the long-term impact of the bill on the health care system. More than one in four simply wouldn't hazard a guess as to what the reforms will do to the system in the next few years. Of those who did, a small majority said it will make things worse rather than better.

For more results from this new CBS News Poll, tune into the CBS Evening News Monday night.

Read the Complete Poll



This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,059 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone March 18-21, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. All interviewing was conducted before the completion of the House vote on health care reform. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
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