Just over half of Americans would prefer to pay more for a health plan that covers a broad network of doctors and hospitals, while 37% would prefer a cheaper plan offering a narrower network, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But the picture is very different for individuals who currently lack health coverage or who purchase coverage on the individual market, which are the groups most expected to shop for health plans through the Obamacare insurance exchanges. Of those respondents, 54% said they preferred a cheaper, narrower network, while just 35% opted for a more expensive plan with a broader provider network.
The issue of narrow networks and whether they're a reasonable tradeoff for lower premiums has proved contentious in the implementation stage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Moves by insurers to tighten their networks have sparked lawsuits from doctors in New York and Connecticut, and prompted legislative proposals in many states.
The Kaiser poll also found that the federal health care law remains broadly unpopular. Nearly half of respondents indicated that they hold an unfavorable opinion of the law, while just 35% expressed a favorable view of it. Less than one-fifth of those surveyed indicated that they had personally benefited from the ACA.
Those numbers are largely unchanged in recent months. Since Kaiser began its monthly tracking poll in April 2010, support for President Barack Obama's signature legislative accomplishment has reached the 50% threshold only once.
Still, 56% of the Kaiser respondents in the most recent survey said they believe the law should remain in place. By contrast, less than one-third said they want it to be repealed.
Americans remain largely ignorant of the legislation's most significant provisions, according to the survey. Over half of respondents indicated that they had little or no knowledge of the state and federal exchanges established under the law. In addition, less than one-quarter of respondents were aware that the deadline for individuals to acquire coverage, or potentially incur a fine, is the end of March.
The Kaiser poll surveyed 1,501 adults nationwide between Feb. 11 and 17. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Paul Demko is a reporter for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Business Insurance.