Supreme Court

Reason-Rupe: 62 percent of Americans Say Individual Mandate is Unconstitutional

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The recent Reason-Rupe poll focusing on health care policy finds that a majority of Americans (51 percent) do not believe individuals should be required to have health insurance. Fully 62 percent of Americans believe the individual mandate, which requires Americans to have health insurance or else pay a fine, is unconstitutional.

Opposition to the individual mandate to buy health insurance is likely a significant driver of opposition to the new health care law passed by Congress in 2010, with 33 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable. Intensity is found on the side unfavorable toward the law, with 32 percent "very unfavorable" versus the 10 percent "very favorable." These intensity findings concur with a recent Kaiser Foundation poll, which finds intensity among those in opposition to the law. 25 percent of respondents said they would be "angry" if the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate whereas 13 percent would be "enthusiastic."

When asked whether Congress should repeal the health care law or let it stand, 49 percent want to repeal it and 36 want to let it stand. Yet, according to the recent Kaiser Foundation poll, 28 percent want to "expand the law" 19 percent want to "keep the law as is", 18 percent want to "repeal the law and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative", and 23 percent want to "repeal the law and not replace it".

Delving deeper into the data, men and women differ on their perceptions of the individual mandate. Whereas a majority (55 percent) of men oppose Congress requiring Americans to have health insurance, women are evenly divided with 47 opposed and 46 percent in favor. Self-identified conservatives and libertarians believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional and do not believe Americans should be required to have health insurance. Although a majority of self-identified liberals and progressives believe Americans should be required to have health insurance, they are less certain about constitutionality. 44 percent of liberals and 45 percent of progressives believe the individual mandate is constitutional, but 45 percent of liberals and 47 percent of progressives believe it is unconstitutional.

A majority of Democrats believe Congress should require health insurance and 50 percent believe it is constitutional. However a majority of Independents and Republicans believe Americans should not be required to have health insurance and believe it is unconstitutional for Congress to require it.

A majority a college graduates do not believe Americans should be required to have health insurance and they also believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional. However, a majority of those with post-graduate degrees do think Americans should be required to have health insurance, but a majority believe to do so is unconstitutional.

Another stark contrast is between public sector and private sector workers. 57 percent of public sector workers believe all Americans should be required to have health insurance, compared to 55 percent of private sector workers who disagree. Nevertheless, majorities within both groups believe the requirement is unconstitutional.

Full poll results found here.

Cross tabs can be found here.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted March 10th-20th of both mobile and landline phones, 1200 adults, margin of error +/- 3 percent. Columns may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Full methodology can be found here

Emily Ekins is the director of polling for Reason Foundation where she leads the Reason-Rupe public opinion research project, launched in 2011. Follow her on Twitter @emilyekins.