A study out before Halloween shows how terrified Americans are of Trumpcare.

This Halloween, what's really getting Americans' skin to crawl?

Clowns, climate change, and nuclear war are all drumming up fears in the hearts of Americans — but apparently not as much as the prospect of losing health insurance.

Halloween masks of Donald Trump. Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images.


An annual survey by Chapman University found that many respondents considered "Trumpcare" to be some truly spooky legislation.

According to the study, which gauged how fearful respondents were on 80 different topics — ranging from crime and the environment, to personal anxieties and technology — Trumpcare was the second most-feared item on the list, behind only "corrupt government officials."

Out of the 1,207 adults polled across the U.S., 55.3% of Americans reported being either "afraid" or "very afraid" of the GOP's attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

That's more than double the percentage of those who reported being fearful of sharks, public speaking, and even death itself.

Graphic courtesy of Chapman University.

Obamacare also made an appearance in the survey, although it's much further down the list. The current law of the land (which has helped provide health insurance to roughly 20 million people) still sends a chill down the spines of 33.9% of Americans. That figure marks a significant drop from last year — before Trump took office — when Obamacare was the 10th most feared item. Now, it's #29.

"The 2017 list of fears clearly reflects political unrest and uncertainty in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president," the university noted, pointing to increased anxieties shared by many Americans on health care, nuclear war with North Korea, and the consequences of climate change.

What's so scary about Trumpcare?

The survey didn't ask respondents about why, exactly, any specific item gave them goosebumps. But it's not too surprising Trumpcare gives Americans the heebie-jeebies.

A jack-o-lantern carved into the face of Trump. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

There've been multiple (failed) versions of health care legislation drafted by Senate Republicans — all vaguely falling under the term "Trumpcare" — with each one involving massive cuts to Medicaid and overhauling many of the protective provisions guaranteed through the Affordable Care Act. Every bill proposed would have resulted in tens of millions of Americans losing their health care coverage one way or another, CBO estimates found.

Frustrated with a flailing Congress, however, Trump is determined to dismantle the Affordable Care Act on his own. Earlier this month, the White House announced it was scrapping subsidies for health care companies that help provide insurance to low-income Americans. Without the federal government's help, premiums will likely spike, hitting poorer Americans hardest. The Trump administration is also hellbent on ensuring Obamacare enrollment drops, slashing budgets for advertising that notifies people in need of health care when they can sign up for Obamacare exchanges. Now that's spooky.

Clowns and sharks may fuel nightmares, but losing health care is what is really keeping Americans up at night.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less