Americans remain divided on government involvement in health insurance: survey

August 10, 2009

Researchers from Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research (CHPPR) have found that support for government-sponsored health insurance for individuals under age 65 remains virtually the same regardless of how the plan is described or how involved the government would be.

Many have argued that public support of a government-sponsored option, such as that being proposed by President , can be significantly influenced by changing how the plan is described or by varying the description of the role government would play.

To test this idea, researchers from CHPPR developed three scenarios that each described a government health insurance plan for individuals under age 65 regardless of employment status. One scenario described an optional " insurance plan," another scenario described an optional "health insurance program similar to Medicare," and a third described a scenario where, similar to other countries, everyone received government insurance with an option to supplement with private insurance. Forty-three percent of respondents found the "public health insurance plan" appealing compared to 44 percent for the Medicare-like plan and 39 percent for the single-payer option. The differences between the three options fell within the margin of error.

Support for the public option was strongest among Democrats with 63 percent finding a "public health insurance" plan appealing, 64 percent finding a "Medicare like" plan appealing, and 69 percent finding a single-payer option appealing. On the other hand these options garnered far less support among Republicans with only 29 percent finding a "public health insurance" plan appealing, 30 percent finding a "Medicare like" plan appealing, and 12 percent finding a single-payer option appealing.

Reasons cited for the appeal of the "public health insurance" and "Medicare like" plans included larger numbers of Americans who would be covered by health insurance, increased choice of insurance options, and lower costs. For the single-payer option the overwhelming reason for its appeal was the increased number of Americans who would be covered by health insurance.

For those finding the three plans to be unappealing, reasons cited included expected inefficiency with government run programs, a general dislike of government involvement in , and concerns that this would cause increased health care costs. Republicans demonstrated the strongest opposition to these three plans with 45 percent finding the "public health insurance" plan unappealing, 37 percent finding the "Medicare-like" plan unappealing, and 56 percent finding the single-payer plan unappealing. In contrast only 11 percent of Democrats found the "public health insurance" plan unappealing, 8 percent found the "Medicare-like" plan unappealing, and 10 percent found the single-payer plan unappealing.

Age also played a role in the evaluation of these scenarios. Respondents 18 to 34 years of age found the single-payer plan (53 percent) to be the most appealing of the three scenarios, while those over age 75 favored the "Medicare-like" plan (51 percent).

"Many in Washington have spent a great deal of time finessing the descriptions and level of government involvement in the proposed options for health care reform," said CHPPR director Aaron E. Carroll, M.D., IU School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics, a Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist and a Riley Hospital for Children physician. "These results suggest, however, that while support for different descriptions or levels of government involvement may shift amongst certain demographics, the overall levels of support do not differ greatly when dealing with a 'public option,' 'Medicare-like' plan, or a single-payer plan. It may be that people have already decided if they support or oppose government involvement in reform, no matter what the specifics or level of such reform are."

More information: A full report on the survey can be found at

Source: Indiana University (news : web)

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2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 10, 2009
All too many respondents don't fully understand what certain plans will evolve. The government option is by far the worse idea of all. Private healthcare insurance can't compete with a government option for the vast majority of Americans because only the government can dictate prices paid for specific procedures. This is how they run both Medicaid and Medicare. As they cut prices paid, hospitals cover their losses by increasing the cost of procedures for everyone else. Basically, private health insurance premiums subsidize Medicaid and Medicare expenses. What private healthcare insurance does better than government to some degree is block waste and fraud. With the government option, the government can subsidize premiums on the back of wealthy taxpayers and government debt. By doing this, businesses will opt out of the now more expensive private healthcare insurance option for the seemingly cheaper government option. Employees have little choice to remain unless they want to pay more for their private healthcare insurance. Eventually, private healthcare will only exist for the very wealthy who will pay almost any price for better care. The problem is that once private healthcare insurance is basically history, hospitals no longer have anywhere to pass on their higher expenses. The end result is longer lines, and likely restricted availability of care. Its called healthcare rationing and its what happens in Canada and Britain every day. You say you need a hip replacement? Wait time in Canada is upwards of 9 months.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2009
I'll bet that underlying this research are four groups that fail to self report: 1. People who realize they will pay for it. 2. people who realize someone else will pay for it 3. people who believe in taking and spending other people's money. 4. people who believe they should keep what they earn and spend it themselves - or not.
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2009
It mystifies me how rich republicans can convince many others that health care insurance should be private so "people who believe they should keep what they earn and spend it themselves", yet police and firefighting services can be government run. Or do they also advocate reverting to private firefighting services such as used to exist in New York 100 years ago, with competing services setting each others areas on fire, or standing and watching homes burn because they werem't insured by their own service.

"You say you need a hip replacement? Wait time in Canada is upwards of 9 months." -- So what's the wait time in the US for poor elderly uninsured? Forever, right?
not rated yet Aug 19, 2009
Today US poor elderly get medical care through a bankrupt federal program called medicare. The uninsured get care through leaching off those paying for private medical insurance. Even socialist NBC/CBS/ABC news programs can't find examples of either US citizens OR illegal immigrants dieing in the US due to lack of timely medical care. Contrast this with UK and Canadian systems where people DO die waiting for treatment. (Please note that it is now illegal to set buildings on fire in New York.)

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