Poll: Most Want Health Reform But Fear Its Side Effects
"A majority of Americans see government action as critical to controlling runaway health-care costs, but there is broad public anxiety about the potential impact of reform legislation and conflicting views about the types of fixes being proposed on Capitol Hill, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll," The Washington Post reports. "Most respondents are 'very concerned' that health-care reform would lead to higher costs, lower quality, fewer choices, a bigger deficit, diminished insurance coverage and more government bureaucracy. About six in 10 are at least somewhat worried about all of these factors, underscoring the challenges for lawmakers as they attempt to restructure the nation's $2.3 trillion health-care system." Many respondents are "nervous about future changes" because of a "fear they may lose what they currently have. "More than eight in 10 said they are satisfied with the quality of care they now receive and relatively content with their own current expenses." In his news conference Tuesday, President Barack Obama "sought to leverage that apprehension" by noting that "premiums have been doubling every nine years, going up three times faster than wages."
Responses to questions about a public plan received mixed responses. "Survey questions that equate the public option approach with the popular, patient-friendly Medicare system tend to get high approval, as do ones that emphasize the prospect of more choices. But when framed with an explicit counterargument, the idea receives a more tepid response. In the new Post-ABC poll, 62 percent support the general concept, but when respondents were told that meant some insurers would go out of business, support dropped sharply, to 37 percent" (Connolly and Cohen, 6/24).
In an analysis of the results, ABC News says: "As can be expected with such a fraught issue, support for federal mandates depends to a large extent on the specifics. As noted, Americans divide evenly on a law requiring that all Americans have insurance. Support soars, however, to 70 percent if that law included aid to help low-income Americans pay for insurance, 68 percent if it required insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and 62 percent if it required employers to offer health insurance or pay into a government insurance fund. ABC included a pdf link to the poll results (Langer, 6/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.