Obamacare or Affordable Care Act: Wording matters in health care debate
December 4th, 2013
06:46 PM ET
1 year ago

Obamacare or Affordable Care Act: Wording matters in health care debate

Update 8:14 p.m., 12/4/2013

(CNN) – Obamacare is back, at least in how President Barack Obama refers to his signature health care reforms.

Following the botched October 1 launch of the HealthCare.gov website for the reforms, the Obama administration appeared to steer clear of the nickname Obamacare originally given by hostile Republicans and later adopted by the President.

But for two straight days this week, Obama used the term in speeches intended to garner support for the Affordable Care Act.

“I know people call this law Obamacare and that’s OK. Because I do care. I do,” Obama said Wednesday at a White House Youth Summit, eliciting laughter and applause. “I care about you. I care about families. I care about Americans.”

A search of the transcripts of WhiteHouse.gov, shows that the last time President used the term Obamacare was in a speech in New Orleans on November 8.

Asked if the White House was avoiding using the term Obamacare to describe the law as the administration scrambles to bring the troubled website up to speed, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday "The President is fine with it," adding "We're focused on making sure that the 'care' part is delivered to the Americans who want it."

And on Tuesday, when asked about the potential problems with insurance coverage, Carney noted that "There's not an insurance police called Obamacare."

"I think it's important to your viewers to understand that they are purchasing private insurance."

According to a recent Gallup survey, a correlation exists between how the health care reforms are described and public support for them.

The November 20 survey said 45% respondents approved of the reforms when they were labeled the Affordable Care Act, while 38% approved then they were called Obamacare. When mentioning the President's name as well as the Affordable Care Act, 41% approved, the same figure as when using a generic reference to the health care law without mentioning the Affordable Care Act or Obama.

The term Obamacare was first used by Republicans as a derisive reference to the Affordable Care Act, which passed Congress in 2010 without any GOP support. Obama and Democrats later adopted the phrase while campaigning for last year's November elections.

Gallup's results are based on select groups from the Gallup Daily tracking sample between Nov. 4-17, with a total of 1,725 to 1,885 respondents.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Healthcare • Jay Carney • Obamacare • President Obama • White House
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Here's some wording the chew on, from the UnitedHealthCare website regarding student health insurance (FAQ page):

    Q. I'm young and healthy. Why do I need health insurance?
    A. Despite your age and health, you never know when a serious injury or illness will strike. You're not invincible. And if you don't have insurance, who'll pay your bills? Do you have the money to pay $1,500 to fix a broken leg or $3,000 to stay in the hospital? Insurance gives you the peace of mind that, yes, most of your medical bills will be covered in case something happens.

    If insurance companies are encouraging young, healthy people to buy health insurance, why isn't the GOP?

    Does the GOP want young people to suffer financial hardship? Isn't the GOP encouraging irresponsibility by telling people to not buy insurance?

    Why is the GOP so actively working AGAINST people's self-interest?

    *crickets*

    December 4, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    Follow up question from the UnitedHealthcare website FAQ:

    Q. If I get sick but don't have the money to pay, won't doctors and hospitals treat me?
    A. Yes, most doctors and hospitals will treat you, but they will aggressively pursue collection of your unpaid medical bills by turning your account over to a collection agency. Yes, some hospitals write off a certain amount of care each year, called "indigent care," but if you or your family fail to meet strict requirements, they'll come after you to pay. Somebody will pay - either you as a paying patient in the form of higher medical bills, or taxpayers.

    December 4, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Obamacare is a sheer an Epithet by GOP thugs. It is ACA LAW. ACA is a Law, indispensable.

    December 4, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Cruz for precident!

    More like the government deathcare! I have blue cross, now that Obama has an office in there building I am no longer gonna get my medications thanks to Obama! He telled them to stop giving me my pills because I say things about him. No thanks Obambo

    December 4, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. WhatAboutYouthDrinking?

    Why did CNN leave out the President's call for bartenders to give cheap drinks to young people In support of The Unaffordable Care Act? That was a fairly important comment he made, especially for a President. Please do your job and report all of the story, not just the pro-Obama viewpoint.

    December 4, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    The act title should be...........The theft act for health care.......as it steals from the working people to give to those who do not work..........which is now nearing the 50% mark, in America.

    December 4, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. Peppy

    This terrible law has his name all over it, enjoy what you voted for, no way he can blame this mess on someone else, however he will try.

    December 4, 2013 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. Richard Long

    Obamacare = OWN IT!

    December 4, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  9. Obamacare is awesome

    Obamacare is awesome

    December 4, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  10. Liz the First

    If i was Obama, i'd be proud to have this landmark achievement named after me. and i'm sure he is. all the repugs' lies about the ACA can't change the fact that it will work for millions of people and be as good for the country as Medicare and Social Security. of course, in the twisted, Bizarro world of the repugs, those are bad things, too. how are we still electing people who are that greedy, short-sighted, and just plain mean?

    December 4, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  11. Emma Goldman

    President Obama! Salute!

    December 4, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  12. davelja1

    I have only one really stupid question. How does a monthly premium going up 45% with higher out-of-pocket copays constitute the result of "The AFFORDABLE Care Act?" I'm confused. I think Congress doesn't know what the word "Affordable" means.

    December 4, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  13. Thomas

    "Mission Accomplished "

    December 4, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  14. steve

    call it what ever you want ill call it fubar

    December 5, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  15. VALETUDO!

    I don't get it – Every time I go to the new web site and click on the Login button , I get a "system is unavailable". The darn thing is still not fixed...

    December 5, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  16. Iamnotfooled

    Whether its called the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare it is a good LAW.

    December 5, 2013 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  17. Steve

    How can anyone who has been following this say Affordable Care Act without cringing?

    December 5, 2013 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  18. Logictox

    Neither, it should be called the UCA (unaffordable care act).

    December 5, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  19. croaton999

    There should be very little doubt that the Historians will label this law "Obamacare" For better, or more likely worse. Personally I hope King Obama is still alive when it is repealed.

    December 5, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  20. jinx9to88

    "The November 20 survey said 45% respondents approved of the reforms when they were labeled the Affordable Care Act, while 38% approved then they were called Obamacare." This is a prime example why we need more education! I bet the difference comes from the deep south red states. Goes to show you that even though the law may help them they still say its a bad idea cause "Obama" is attached to it, crying shame.

    December 5, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  21. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Words matter

    Dictionary . c o m

    liar:
    a person who has lied or lies repeatedly

    IF...
    If you like your health plan

    You can keep it......... PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take it away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    IF...
    If you like your Doctor

    You can keep it......... PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take it away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    IF...
    If you like your hospital

    You can keep it......... PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take it away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    IF...
    If you like your faith

    You can keep it......... PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take it away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    "I" have "evolved" "I" am now SMARTER than God Himeslf

    IF...
    If you like your guns

    You can keep them.....PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take them away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    IF...
    If you like your freedom

    You can keep it......... PERIOD. GUARANTEED !!!
    No one will take it away, no matter what.
    TRUST "ME"

    "I" am NOT a liar !!!

    December 5, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  22. Joe Casey

    It's Obamacare, Period.

    December 5, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  23. Carol Vanausdau

    Whatever you prefer to call this healthcare takeover, it is NOT a good plan to have government takeover our healthcare system. I want the government to free the healthcare system and allow it to operate as they were. Knowing the President's background, his Marxist step-father, I fear for this country if we don't get control of this mess. I am well aware that AARP is managed by liberals and has supported Obamacare from the start. There is a conservative version that I intend to utilize in the near future.

    December 5, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |