More Obamacare Surveys Tell Us What We Don’t Know

The Fiscal Times
More Obamacare Surveys Tell Us What We Don’t Know
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More Obamacare Surveys Tell Us What We Don’t Know

Breaking news—most people don’t have any idea how Obamacare is going to affect them in the long run, despite the mountains of surveys reaching various, and often contradicting conclusions.

Whether it’s a study saying everyone’s premiums are going to skyrocket, or an analysis suggesting that the price increase will actually be quite gradual-- it’s easy to get bogged down by conflicting information. Especially since most of these studies are based on pure speculation. With some notable exceptions, some of the groups behind the surveys may have something to gain or lose by the outcome.

Remember, insurers won’t officially set their rates for next year until the fall. Regardless, everyone is eager to give/get some kind of analysis.

Related: Insurers on Obamacare: Expect Prices to Soar

Two Obamacare surveys released this week offer a great illustration of how difficult it is to get an accurate picture of the law’s future and its impact on consumer behavior.

Both surveys ask respondents how Obamacare will affect their retirement decisions—though, likely because of the unique way each survey’s questions are phrased, they yielded remarkably different results.

The first survey comes from Money-rates.com. It asked 2,000 respondents, “How do you expect Obamacare will impact your exit from the workforce?” Roughly a third said they expect to delay their retirement by at least five years due to higher health-care costs associated with the health care law. Just 17 percent of respondents said they expect to retire early because of Obamacare.

That survey scored this headline on CNBC: “Retiring Early Because Of Obamacare? Not So Fast.” The article told readers that more Americans are expecting to delay their retirement because of the health care law.

The second survey by Bankrate.com suggests the opposite. Bankrate framed the question more delicately—asking respondents “If you could get health insurance at an affordable cost that is not linked to your job, would you be more likely to change jobs or retire early in the future, less likely, or would it make no difference”

Related: Top 10 Questions Consumers Ask About Obamacare

To that question, only 8 percent of respondents said they expect to delay retirement or leave their job because of the health care law. While about 23 percent said they expect to leave their job or retire early.

The differing results are not surprising and only further suggest that it is still too early to know how Obamacare will affect a person’s retirement. After all, the law’s very first open enrollment period just ended about a month ago. Insurers haven’t even submitted their premium rates for next year yet, and the employer mandate hasn’t yet taken effect.

There are plenty of things we still don’t know about the law—and plenty of questions we need to answer before anyone can accurately say whether they will have to delay their retirement or not.

Even Richard Barrington, the senior financial analyst at Money-rates admitted in a blog post, "It’s too early to tell whether Obamacare will actually delay people's retirements." He went on to write that “the debate over the program has created a certain amount of fear, and this survey measures the degree of that fear.”

Bankrate’s Doug Whiteman offered a similar sentiment, saying the negative views or fears of the law expressed by respondents could likely be explained by the months of media attention over Obamacare’s rocky rollout and the GOP’s relentless attacks of the law leading up to the elections.

Regardless, it’s important to take each of these surveys in stride—as there’s likely quite a long road ahead for Obamacare—and quite a few more dueling surveys to come.

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