What do doctors think about the Affordable Care Act?
A new survey conducted in the weeks following the presidential election finds primary care doctors, like the population at large, have mixed opinions about the landmark health law.
Only a small percentage (15 percent) of doctors support a full repeal of Obamacare, according to the poll of 426 physicians, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, even among doctors who voted for Donald Trump, only 38 percent back repeal.
That’s not to say these doctors are huge fans of the law. Just under three-quarters say the ACA needs to be changed. Specifically, two-thirds want to expand the law by creating a “public option” health insurance program run by the government that will compete with the private plans that the ACA marketplace currently relies on.
In comparison, about a quarter of Americans support completely scrapping the ACA, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted last month.
Related: Obama in note to Trump: Save the ACA
Physicians are even more inclined than other Americans to support some of the law’s most popular provisions. Over 95 percent of doctors surveyed believe people should not be denied insurance based on medical conditions and 88 percent favor allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
And like their compatriots outside of the medical field, physicians are split on whether individuals should be forced to buy insurance. Just under 50 percent say that there should be a fine levied on those who fail to get coverage, a rule that is considered essential to the financial viability of the ACA.
Doctors are also not enthusiastic about insurance reforms aimed at making people better health care consumers. Only 29 percent say they would like to see a greater use of high-deductible health plans, which have been a staple of the ACA marketplace and have become increasingly popular among employers that are trying to reduce health expenses by shifting a greater portion of the cost of insurance onto employees.
One policy floated by Republicans that doctors are more favorable to is giving tax credits to Medicaid beneficiaries to buy their own private health plans. Fifty-seven percent of physicians say they support the idea.
The study may suggest doctors’ perception of the ACA has improved since shortly after the law’s implementation, when polls showed the field sharply divided on the issue.
However, as polls of the general population have repeatedly demonstrated, there is clearly a substantial percentage of the population that does not view the ACA as deeply flawed but does not favor its repeal.