Obamacare vs. the Affordable Care Act: Which is better?

Grrrr. Down with Obamacare!

What we need in this country is … affordable health care.

You say what? There’s another new health care law, the Affordable Care Act? We’ll take that one rather than the socialistic, anti-business, high-cost … Obamacare.

Earlier this week, on the day the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, was officially rolled out, TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew to ask people whether they preferred the ACA or its shorthand moniker. Most of the people interviewed said they liked the Affordable Care Act, but were highly skeptical of its evil twin, Obamacare.

A recent CNBC poll confirmed that more Americans oppose Obamacare than oppose the Affordable Care Act. But the network poll also found more Americans support Obamacare than the Affordable Care Act.

How could this be? Well, CNBC polled two different groups — using “Obamacare” for one and “Affordable Care Act” for the other. The results depended on whether people support or oppose President Barack Obama. Then again, 30 percent of the people polled didn’t even know what the Affordable Care Act is, but when asked about Obamacare, only 12 percent said they didn’t know what that was.

None of this makes any rational sense at all, since we’re talking about the same law — one that has been debated and discussed for nearly four years and was one of the main issues in the last presidential election. But we live in a time when information is becoming just as polarized as our politics. What we know and feel is colored more by personalities and media attention than the substance of something as hugely significant as health care insurance.

So what can we take from this? That people are comically misinformed — or even worse, willfully ignorant of what their government is doing, while filling their minds with lowbrow entertainment and social media?

If that’s so, we shudder to think what Americans would say if asked to explain the relationship between the government shutdown and the ACA/Obamacare, much less the Oct. 17th debt ceiling vote.

In recent weeks, the federal government has gone to decent lengths to explain the law and to let Americans know just who it affects, what the various levels of insurance offer, the cost, and how to start enrolling. The Sentinel has published numerous FAQs and other explainers about the law. Still, there’s a vast sea of wrong ideas about Obamacare. Such as:

Undocumented immigrants are going to get coverage (they aren’t).

People over 65 are going to have sign up for a new form of insurance (nope. If you’re receiving Medicare, nothing changes).

The government is going to force people to use the health insurance exchanges (while it’s true those who choose to go without insurance face increasing fines, most people with existing insurance can stay where they are).

None of this to say there aren’t a host of reasonable objections to the law, but clearly, neither party can rightfully claim they have the American public on their side in whether the health care law, under either name, will proceed, much less succeed.

There is one group of Americans, however, who do know most of what’s in the Affordable Care Act — our elected, and paid, representatives in Congress. What’s truly scary, is not misinformed or uninformed Americans, but the reality that these representatives cannot effectively negotiate solutions.

There’s a reason so many Americans have tuned out and turned a deaf ear to what is coming out of Washington.

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