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Poll: 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.

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