73 Percent of Americans Say Congress Does Not Understand Health Care or the Impact of Health Care Laws

Nearly three out of four Americans say members of Congress do not understand the health care system or the impact of health care laws they pass. Just a quarter say Congress understands the health care system well and the consequences of the health care laws they pass.

About half of respondents, 48 percent, say the typical lawmaker understands these issues “not well at all,” and 25 percent say the typical member of Congress understands the issues “not too well.” Twenty-one percent believe the average member of Congress understands the health care system and the impact of the health care laws they pass “somewhat well” and just 4 percent think the average legislator understands these issues “very well.”

Only 32 percent of Democrats say that the typical member of Congress understands the health care system and an even lower number of Republicans — 16 percent — agree. Instead, majorities of Republicans (55 percent) and independents (52 percent) go so far as to say Congress doesn’t understand the health care system “at all,” as well as 40 percent of Democrats.

Compared to other groups, young Americans have considerably higher confidence in Congress’ knowledge and abilities, with 40 percent who say Congress understands the health care system well and 58 percent who say it doesn’t. However, there is a divide between younger and older millennials. For instance, while 41 percent of 25-34 year olds says Congresspersons understands these issues “not well at all” compared to 23 percent of college-aged millennials.

As Americans get older they become less likely to expect Congress to understand health care and the laws it passes. Roughly 58 percent of Americans over 45 have little confidence in Congress’ knowledge, compared to 42 percent among those aged 25-44, and a quarter among those aged 18-24.

White Americans over 35 are considerably more likely than young white Americans, or minorities to have little confidence in Congress. For instance, 59 percent of older Caucasians don’t expect Congress people to understand the health care system “at all” compared to about a third of younger Caucasians and minorities.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted Dec 4-8 2013 interviewed 1011 adults on both mobile (506) and landline (505) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results, detailed tables, and methodology found here. Sign up for notifications of new releases of the Reason-Rupe poll here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    Bask in the glory of the pole dump, everyone!

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Cross-posted, for your poll-dump pleasure:

    Hooray!

    Win battles, lose wars!
  • ||

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I'll put even money that my cousin has completed the task of completing his pole dump.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Pardon me while I repetitively repeat my verbs.

  • Ted S.||

    Oh, come on. This is only the sixth post on the Reason-Taboola poll. I think they had ten times as many posts on the death of Lou Reed.

  • Loki||

    Lour Reed's Dead!?

  • ||

    Who are the 25% who think congress knows what it is doing? I did not know there were that many people in mental hospitals and homes for the mentally retarded.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    The DNC is pretty big, Suthen.

  • John||

    I can tell you who they are. They are very educated and credentialed people who have convinced themselves that the world is just so complex the public can't be expected to understand it. Sure, it may look like Congress has no idea what it is doing to someone like you. But educated people who know the nuances of these sorts of things know better.

    This is what they actually think.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I can verify that with an anecdotal example: A very smart peer of mine in the nuclear engineering department who is defending his PhD on Friday has basically espoused this. He really thinks that doctors should not be allowed to treat whoever they want in whatever voluntary trade him and the patient makes for the doctors service. Healthcare is too *important* to be left to people trading for physician services, the government must run the entire show to assure efficiency and safety of the patient!

  • Lord Humungus||

    Ask him if he believes that the government should be able determine the amount of money he makes and where he works. If he like that idea, perhaps a little red book is in his future.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    He has already told me that there should be a cap on income. I can't remember exactly what number he stated but it was around $250,000 is the magic number where after that your income is 100% taxed.

    He is one of those people that thinks he is smarter and better than "people". He is likely smarter than 90% of people when it comes to pure intelligence but he lacks the ability to analyse human nature and someone can look at human history and not see how an ever powerful state usually turns out.

    I want to send him the link to Reason H&R and get him on the comment boards here. I want him to seriously argue his case here. I shy away doing it face to face because I work with him and politics gets ugly quick.

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    I am sorry about the awful grammar in the above comment. I wrote it in haste and did not re-read it.

  • ||

    Dude, you are newcular physicist.

    Chemists are notoriously bad, and I assume physicists are about the same....at least the ones I have known are.

    I had a chem prof who was a freakin' genius, but was constantly spouting malaprops that were so bad it was like translating from a foreign language.

    No one is going to give you grief over it.

  • ||

    He would not stick around here long. He would be right at home over at Phryngula.

  • LynchPin1477||

    $250,000 isn't magic. It is probably just on the optimistic high end of what he thinks he'll end up making.

  • John||

    Everyone loves helping out, provided it is someone else' money that is doing the helping.

  • Lord Humungus||

    And wait until inflation slowly (or quickly!) eats away at that 250K.

    A million dollars yesteryear is a drop in the bucket today. Thanks, Fed!

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    He has already told me that there should be a cap on income.

    Guess he's not really all that smart after all, is he?

  • Zeb||

    Depends on what results he's after.

  • kinnath||

    So your friend doesn't like sports stars, movies stars, or any celebrity that is filthy rich.

    He must spend all his free time masturbating at home.

  • ||

    So your colleague is an idiot savant?

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    He is politically. He is a smart fuck that thinks humans need to be controlled to a degree. That is a dangerous combination. Luckily he isn't sadistic or power hungry.

  • ||

    He is a smart fuck that thinks humans need to be controlled to a degree.

    For their own good, of course.

  • pan fried wylie||

    Luckily he isn't sadistic or power hungry.

    Not till he gets his first taste at least.

  • ||

    How many Nuclear Physicists get into politics?

    Sounds like he is too earnest to ever get anywhere in politics.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Then he isn't that smart - at least not in the sense of having wisdom.

  • Zeb||

    It's kind of silly to try to call anyone just smart or stupid. Many people are very good at one thing and very bad at others.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Your smart peer is a perfect fit for the nuclear industry (or the NRC).

  • ||

    I have been lectured by such people who did not realize that I am better educated than they are.

    My general response is quietly let them finish and then to note that the less people know about something, the stronger their opinion on the matter.

    That usually makes them so angry they can barely contain themselves, which makes me smile.

  • John||

    These sorts of people have credentials not expertise. As I am sure you know, the two are not the same. But they don't realize that.

  • ||

    By 'such people' I mean pretentious assholes.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "...the less people know about something, the stronger their opinion on the matter."

    The degree to which this is true is the degree to which we are fucked.

    Right now, I am in the "fairly fucked" camp. But every day that I read Hit and Run...

  • JW||

    Since you aren't as educated as they are, clearly you don't possess the wit to understand that since they are intelligent and all-knowing in one area, they're intelligent and all-knowing in ALL areas.

  • R C Dean||

    the less people know about something, the stronger their opinion on the matter.

    Quoth the Iron Law;

    The less you know about something, the easier it looks.

  • sarcasmic||

    The claims of these organizers of humanity raise another question which I have often asked them and which, so far as I know, they have never answered: If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind? The organizers maintain that society, when left undirected, rushes headlong to its inevitable destruction because the instincts of the people are so perverse. The legislators claim to stop this suicidal course and to give it a saner direction. Apparently, then, the legislators and the organizers have received from Heaven an intelligence and virtue that place them beyond and above mankind; if so, let them show their titles to this superiority.

    They would be the shepherds over us, their sheep. Certainly such an arrangement presupposes that they are naturally superior to the rest of us. And certainly we are fully justified in demanding from the legislators and organizers proof of this natural superiority.
    -Bastiat
  • John||

    It is the same reason why corporations are evil and exploitative but regulators are committed to the public good and incorruptible; because we say so.

  • ||

    E-cigarettes: a burning question for U.S. regulators

    "Essentially e-cigarette companies are selling nicotine addiction," said Dr. Neil Schluger, chief scientific officer for the World Lung Foundation, which advocates for tobacco control.

    "Once you have them addicted to nicotine, you can sell them all sorts of things, including conventional cigarettes," he said. "This is a giant Trojan horse."

  • John||

    Not many people smoke anymore. So these assholes have to have something to do. That is the problem with regulators. Once you create them, they will forever be inventing things to regulate to justify their existence.

    There is really in the long run no such thing as a "little regulation". Once you start, there is no stopping.

  • Lord Humungus||

    We had a company wide meeting yesterday - part of that was the impact on Obamacare and how smokers will be paying more in the future.

    At that point I leaned over to my co-worker and said, "And that's the year that smokers will lie about their habit." Duh.

  • John||

    Yup. And the response will be to have mandatory testing for nicotine. Won't that be great.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Also learned that my co. spends ~20% of its profits on Healthcare. Roughly $8K per person/family. Those heartless corporate bastards! ;)

  • AlexInCT||

    NOT ENOUGH!

  • playa manhattan||

    My co is around $18k/family for yearly medical. Almost in cadillac territory, yet still not compliant with obamacare without some major modifications...

  • Lord Humungus||

    Weird - we are compliant for Obamacare.

    80/20 plan, three levels of care available.

    I imagine the cost per is driven down by our high number of lower paid factory workers who are using the minimum possible, since co-pays, etc would eat greatly into their income.

  • R C Dean||

    Already here, John. Hospitals have jumped on the "we don't hire smokers" bandwagon, and you get piss-tested for nicotine along with all the other Unfashionable Drugs.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    If they're not regulating, they are quite literally, not doing their job.

  • sarcasmic||

    If they're not regulating, they are quite literally, not doing their job.

    Incentives. How do they work?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Incentives are a myth made up by heartless libertarians who want to continue to steal food out of the mouths of orphans.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -Not many people smoke anymore.

    In some parts of the country it is still fairly common.

  • JW||

    "This is a giant Trojan horse."

    Since I enjoy inhaling benign water vapor, I will really love inhaling smoke into my lungs. It's exactly the same.

  • Bean Counter||

    "Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?"
    The question answers itself. It's the arrogance of the true believer. They know THE TRUTH, you are an ignorant philistine.

  • Hugh Akston||

    25% of people think 9/11 was an inside job. 25% of people are just retarded.

  • BardMetal||

    Didn't Southpark say once that about 1/4 of people are retarded?

  • Chief Justice John Jay||

    Hopefully at least some of them meant it in the sense of, "Oh, they know. Those bastards. They know exactly what they're doing."

  • Smilin' Joe Fission||

    47% of those 18-24 think the government understands healthcare or the impact of health care laws very/somewhat well.

    That is... too bad.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    If only the Carousel from Logan's Run could work in reverse...

  • Zeb||

    I can see a few problems with that plan. Maybe just raise the voting age to 35.

  • RonnieNM||

    18-24 years of unfettered statist indoctrination....sounds about right.

  • Metazoan||

    Pollpocalypse

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "It's those other 434 Congressmen who are fucking everything up."

  • Jerry on the boat||

    Congress doesn't understand the health care law because we didn't get our pink pony yet.

  • ||

    Most of congress might not understand Obamacare too well, but you can bet Pelosi knew what was in there and voted for it anyway. That cunt is pure evil.

  • ||

    Of course they don't understand health care - they're on the Lil Sebastian Plan and that ain't gonna change.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I had to query the googlez to figure out what you were referring to. I still don't know, and I now dumber for having made the attempt. Thanks!

  • ||

    Referring to the "free ponies" talk from one of the other eleventy billion poll posts today.

  • ||

    And if you're hatin' on Parks & Rec, thems big time fightin' words.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I can understand why you'd be conflicted (or just straight up hate it), but I personally think it's awesome that Ron is dating Xena.

  • BiMonSciFiCon||

    Seriously.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Does that plan hold an honorary degree from Notre Dame?

  • Rich||

    How about a law requiring congresscreatures, before they vote on any bill, to pass an exam -- say, at an eighth-grade level -- on the subject of the bill?

    If you're not "smarter" than an eighth-grader about something, you jolly well better not be creating laws about it.

  • Restoras||

    But Rich that would just bring the gears of doing the Peoples' Business to a halt. You wouldn't want that, would you?

  • Rich||

    Very well, make it a *twelfth*-grade level!

  • ||

    How about a law requiring that every bill be read in its entirety on the floor before it could be voted on? Members that don't attend every freakin' minute don't get to vote.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    Once upon a time, didn't a certain president promise to broadcast the crafting of the healthcare law on CSPAN?

    Maybe Americans would have understood things better if they were able to see how the law was made.

  • Rich||

    I watched part of the congressional shenanigans during its passage, and it was fucking nauseating.

  • John||

    The bill was there and people read it. Plenty of people at places like Heritage and Cato were predicting exactly the result that happened.

    After the people who wrote it and passed it, the people who bear the biggest responsibility for this mess are the media. The media is the ones who made no attempt to understand what the law actually said and did nothing but repeat the talking points of its supporters.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Maybe Americans would have understood things better if they were able to see how the law was made.

    Just like sausage.

  • playa manhattan||

    I saw a documentary on hotdogs and it just made me hungry.

  • playa manhattan||

    Reminds me of one of the greatest episodes in the history of television:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLefs6TE80M

  • Rich||

    And another thing:

    Compared to other groups, young Americans have considerably higher confidence in Congress’ knowledge and abilities

    I call bullshit on this. Most of the young people I know think the ignorant adults are running this country into the ground.

  • Kid Xenocles||

    And I don't know anyone who voted for Obama, either. (Not true, but you get the idea.)

  • ||

    I go to a few video game review/news sites.

    The commentors are strangely cynical about everything but government.

    I assume most there are young Americans.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -The commentors are strangely cynical about everything but government.

    About the only thing I am cynical about is the government.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They are all waiting their turn to fix what was wrong with the system. Delusions of being so much smarter than the old folks.

  • robc||

    It looks like White people over 35 use the health care system enough to understand the government is fucking it up.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I imagine whites and minorities over 35 both have plenty experience with health care, but the former are more likely to have better jobs with comparatively nice health benefits which they rightly reason will only be made worse by government meddling while the latter are more likely to get their health care through government already and may conclude that it is the only way they are going to.

  • ||

    but the former are more likely to have better jobs

    So basically they are more likely to actually pay for their own health care and pay a greater share of other people's health care.

  • ||

    OT; Just to make everyone jealous again.

    Just got a call from the gunshop. My new Kimber Gold Match 1911 fitted with tritium sights is in.
    I will go get it and then I will be in my bunk.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Just make sure it is unloaded before the kissing & fondling begins. No accidents!

  • Brett L||

    Premature discharge?

  • Lord Humungus||

    exactly. It takes just one sperm bullet.

  • playa manhattan||

    I'm looking at a Mini 30 Stainless right now. I already treated myself to an EOtech xps2, so I might hold off until next year.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Name it Vera?

  • Restoras||

    Sweet! Enjoy!

  • Steve G||

    Wonder how many more of these polls we really need to know that the majority feels:
    1. Congress is worthless
    2. Unless it's my guy, in which case, I'll vote him back in every election.
    3. Spending is too high
    4. Unless it's for me, in which case, I don't get enough free shit.

    Seriously, it's the same thing every time. The majority feels (insert common sense here), until you affect them personally, then it's (insert same behavior that got us in this mess here).

  • Sevo||

    I see the D's are right up there in group stupidity. Hey, shreek! You're not alone!

  • ||

    Shreek is a libertarian who agrees with everything the D's say.

    He is very much alone.

  • califernian||

    So 27% of americans are clueless

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement