It is one of the Obama administration's biggest accomplishments, one of Republicans' biggest targets, and the first thing that Mitt Romney says he'll undo if he becomes president. Given the emotions around the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, then, you'd think that people must have really picked it apart and made up their minds about it, right?
Not the case.
According to a new survey by Stanford University (pdf), hardly any Americans really understand what's in the contentious, 900-page law, which was passed by Congress in 2010 with a single Republican vote.
For the survey, Jon Krosnick, a Stanford professor of communications and political science (along with the Associated Press and survey research firm GfK), polled about 2,500 Americans in 2010 and 2012. People were shown 18 claims about the new law and asked their level of certainty about whether the claims were true, or not.
"We found nobody, literally nobody in the country, who answered all the quiz questions correctly," wrote Krosnick, in a press release.
In fact, Krosnick found that only 14 percent of respondents answered a majority of the questions correctly with a high degree of certainty.
Obviously that points to a poor understanding of the most enormous piece of legislation in years, but the data shows us some other interesting information, too.
Krosnick found that the better a respondent fared on the quiz—that is, the better they understood what actually was and wasn't in the health care bill—the more likely they were to support it.
"If the public had perfect understanding of the elements that we examined," Krosnick predicted, "the proportion of Americans who favor the bill might increase from the current level of 32% to 70%."
The study also showed:
• Understanding of the parts of the legislation varied with party identification: Democrats understood the most, independents less, and Republicans still less.
• Older and more educated people scored higher than younger and less educated people.
• Understanding of the new law didn't grow much between the 2010 and 2012 surveys.
SO HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND the health care bill? We took Krosnick's 18 questions and created the following quiz to find out.
A disclaimer: Though we used the exact wording of the Stanford survey, we had to simplify things a little. Most notably, we're not asking you to indicate a level of certainty about your response. Just indicate whether you think that each element provided is in the Affordable Care Act or not.
And when you're done, let us know how you did (and what you think of the bill) over at our Facebook page.