Poll: Public still bewildered by healthcare reform

Americans are more worried about losing access to health services this summer than they were two seasons earlier, before health reform was enacted, according to a new Reuters poll released Monday.

But that trend is probably the result of the many public criticisms of the bill, pollsters said, not what the bill itself contains.

"I doubt the average person really knows what has been implemented," Gary Pickens, chief research officer at Thomson Reuters, said in a statement. "They just know there is a lot of talk and there has been a lot of negative publicity."

The consumer confidence poll, conducted monthly by Thomson Reuters, found 5 percent more Americans were worried about their ability to pay for health services in July — four months after health reform became law — than they were last December.

Some experts suggested many voters are simply wondering why they haven't experienced any changes yet. 

"The healthcare debate raised people's expectations, and there is now disappointment as a result that the problem isn't solved," David Kendall, health expert at ThirdWay, a centrist think tank, told Reuters.

The partisan reform bill makes sweeping changes to the country's healthcare delivery system, but many of the reforms don't take effect for years.

Meanwhile, Democrats have trumpeted the expanded coverage and consumer protections in the reform bill, arguing they will eliminate the worst abuses of private insurance companies. Republicans, on the other hand, have slammed the changes as a government intrusion on private markets that will ultimately hike costs and erode services. 

The Reuters poll suggests that, at least in the short-term, the GOP message machine has been the more effective.