The Kaiser Foundation created a short quiz of 10 true/false questions about Obamacare that does a pretty good job of illustrating how much misconception there is about the law. If you want to take the quiz without being “spoiled” do it now before reading further.
After taking the quiz I was told that I got a 10/10 (smoooooth brag) and that my score was better than 99.6% of people taking the quiz. This means that only 4 out of every 1,000 people who take the quiz are able to answer all the questions correctly. For the sake of comparison, flipping a coin should result in just about 1 out of every 1,000 people getting a perfect score. This is sort of depressing.
(I took this last week, but haven’t had a chance to write about it until now. I saved the output from then so if some of the numbers I quote below are different now, that’s why.)
Of the 10 questions asked, the question with the highest percentage of correct answers was this one:
Will the health reform law provide financial help to low and moderate income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs to help them purchase coverage?
This was the “easiest” question but still only 72% of people taking the quiz were able to answer that question (yes) correctly.
The question with the lowest percentage of correct responses was this one:
Will the health reform law require all businesses, even the smallest ones, to provide health insurance for their employees?
Only 25% of respondents were able to answer (no) correctly. This goes beyond any statistical possibility of chance. The fact that three quarters of respondents could not answer this question isn’t just about ignorance (pure guessing should have resulted in a 50% success rate) but about actual misinformation. Conservatives spent a year lying about what Obamacare would do before it was passed, and then after it was passed, they just kept on lying about what the bill contains. This is the result of their mendacity.
Another question with a high percentage of wrong answers was this one:
Will the health reform law create a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans?
Maybe the reason that so many conservatives remain convinced that Obamacare is a Single Payer Trojan Horse is that this question was answered correctly (no) by only 27% of respondents.
One of the lies that Republicans used over and over in the 2010 congressional campaign and that Romney repeated after the SCOTUS decision was that Obamacare cut $500 billion from Medicare. Keep that in mind when looking at the results for this question:
Will the health reform law cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare?
The correct answer is no, but only 40% of people were able to answer correctly.
Remember: thousands of flipping coins would score ~50% on all these questions. Any aggregated result below 50% represents actual misinformation rather than just people guessing.
It’s nearly impossible to have a substantive debate about policy if all parties aren’t well-informed about the facts regarding the issue. If one side is deliberately spreading misinformation, it becomes even more difficult. Media hacks will point to quiz results like this and shake their heads sadly and say that the Obama administration has failed in its messaging, completely absolving themselves of their responsibility to inform the public.
Sometimes I’m not sure we deserve to survive as a species.