KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Polls: Americans Less Confident About Their Future Health Care, Skeptical About Reform Proposals

"A monthly survey of consumer sentiment on health care issues shows that Americans' confidence in insurance coverage, affordability and access dropped more than 5 points in July, after having risen slightly in June," The Associated Press/CBS News reports. "Among seniors eligible for Medicare the drop was even more striking - 10.4 points - suggesting the health care debate is raising alarm bells for older people." The survey, part of the health care consumer confidence index compiled by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was "conducted even before coverage of raucous town hall meetings that highlighted public opposition to Mr. Obama's Democrats' health overhaul plans." The overall confidence level for July "was 97.2, down from 102.3 in June. The highest possible score is 200, the lowest zero."

"The Robert Wood Johnson survey does not measure specifically whether people support or oppose Mr. Obama's health care agenda," but it does show "palpable worries about the status quo. It bears out other polls, including Marist, that show the public believes the U.S. health system should be changed, even while they have misgivings about the direction Mr. Obama and his Democrats are taking" (8/18).

Meanwhile, a new NBC News poll - conducted over the weekend - found that "a plurality believes Obama's health plan would worsen the quality of health care, a result that is virtually unchanged from last month's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. What's more, only four in 10 approve of the president's handling of the issue, which also is unchanged from July," NBC News reports. "And a majority - 54 percent - is more concerned that the government will go too far in reforming the nation's health care system, while 41 percent is more worried that the reform will not do enough to lower costs and cover the uninsured." NBC notes the lack of support is due in part to "misperceptions" about Obama's health care plan. "Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants; would lead to a government takeover of the health system; and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions - all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress. Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly," which "also is untrue." In addition, "43 percent say they favor a public option, versus 47 percent who oppose it. That's a shift from last month's NBC/Journal poll, when 46 percent said they backed it and 44 percent were opposed" (Murray, 8/18).

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