Survey: Public opinion on healthcare mandate is subject to change

The Pew survey described two components of the mandate — the financial penalty for not buying insurance, and government subsidies for people who cannot afford coverage on their own. When questioners mentioned the subsidies first, then the penalty, 63 percent of respondents opposed the mandate. When the question was flipped, and ended by noting that the government would provide financial help, only 49 percent said they disapproved of the policy.

Overall attitudes toward the healthcare law are split about evenly, according to the Pew poll. Those findings are consistent with other surveys, which have shown a roughly 50-50 divide in public opinion since the law was passed two years ago.

According to the Pew findings, 47 percent of respondents said they approve of the new law, while 45 percent disapprove. The law is most popular with people younger than 30 (58 percent approval), Hispanics (66 percent) and blacks (83 percent).