The most popular provision of the massive health care reform law isn't one of the measures that's made big headlines. It's a requirement that health insurance plans provide consumers with easy-to-understand summaries, according to a November poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Sixty percent of respondents gave the requirement a "very favorable" rating, making it the only provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to garner more than half of the public's strong favor.
Federal health officials are finalizing regulations to put the law into effect.
Other provisions that have attracted more attention also garnered substantial support. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they felt "very favorable" about the provision prohibiting health insurers from excluding pre-existing conditions. That provision goes into effect in 2014. Forty-six percent of resondents favored gradually closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage "doughnut hole." Other measures gaining support include tax credits for small businesses (44 percent) and subsidies for individuals to help pay for coverage (45 percent).
The individual mandate was the least popular among 15 provisions named in the poll, with just 16 percent of respondents saying they strongly favor it. The mandate will require virtually everyone to have health insurance in 2014. More than half the states have legally challenged the constitutionality of the provision, and the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on it next year.
"Some people don't want insurance. Others may worry they will not be able to afford it," Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation president and CEO, wrote in an online column. "But mostly, Americans don't like to be told what to do or that they will be fined for not doing it. Opposition softens somewhat if people think the mandate will help spread insurance risk."