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University of Iowa News Release


April 27, 2010

Hawkeye Poll: middle-aged Americans most optimistic about health care bill

Overall, support for the new health care legislation remains low, but a new poll indicates that middle-aged Americans are much more likely to approve of it.

A national University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today suggests that 53 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds are in favor of the legislation. This support is despite the fact that only 28 percent of the age group believes the reform will improve quality of coverage, and 63 percent expect it to increase their out-of-pocket medical costs.

Approval of the bill was only 28 percent for those in the 18-34 age range, 36 percent for the 55-69 range, and 33 percent for 70-plus. The poll was conducted March 27 through April 3, just after the health care reform was signed into law.

Topline results are available at:

“Provisions in the bill that reduce the risk of losing health insurance may be especially appealing to the middle-aged group,” said Nathan Darus, a UI doctoral student in political science who helped conduct the poll. “Those with kids may be particularly sensitive to the impact a sudden loss of insurance could have on family finances. While some believe the bill may increase their out-of-pocket costs, they appear to be more concerned about maintaining access to coverage.”

Across age groups, a minority (39 percent) approves of the measure, and 10 percent haven’t decided how they feel. Slightly over half disapprove.

The youngest age group was the least likely to have an opinion on the bill, with 27 percent indicating that haven’t decided how they feel.

Despite significant news coverage of the relative advantages and shortcomings of the health care reform legislation, many Americans remain uncertain about how the new measures will impact the quality and cost of their health care.

Thirty-six percent say that the jury is out on whether their quality of care will change, while 22 percent expect improvement and 42 predict a decline.

Eleven percent have no idea how the changes will affect their out-of-pocket medical expenses, while 60 percent believe their expenses will go up, 17 percent think costs will remain steady and 11 percent expect to save money.

The poll showed a sharp partisan divide: 71 percent of Democrats approve, while 80 percent of Republicans disapprove. Independents are also skeptical about the new bill: 70 percent disapprove, but notably, 21 percent are not yet sure.

Of the 703 participants, 33 percent were Democrat, 30 percent Republican and 28 percent independent. Fifty-one percent considered themselves moderate, while 14 percent were liberal and 34 percent were conservative. Reported results are weighted by state population, age and gender. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.9 percent.

The poll was conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty and graduate students in political science, with the cooperation and facilities of the Iowa Social Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. Faculty advisor for the poll is UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke. The poll is a teaching, research and service project of the UI Department of Political Science. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost provided funding for the poll.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nathan Darus, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-3381 (office), 216-798-1682 (cell),; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,; Frederick Boehmke, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2342 (office), 716-866-9277 (cell),