Poll Reveals Americans Wary About Healthcare Reform

Americans are unsure that a healthcare reform bill introduced this week is the solution to problems with the U.S. healthcare system, according to a poll created and commissioned by a public policy expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

“By a 50-42 margin, Americans oppose the House of Representatives’ bill introduced July 14,” said S. Ward Casscells, MD, vice president of external affairs and public policy and the John Edward Tyson Distinguished Professor in Cardiology at the UT Health Science Center at Houston. “This bill would call for most employers to sponsor health plans and would also create a Medicare-like plan for those under 65 who have no other health plan. The increased costs would be covered by increasing income taxes on individuals making more than $280,000 and families making more than $350,000.”

According to the survey, which was conducted by Zogby International, most Americans are unwilling to pay higher taxes and instead favor more innovative approaches that would use the savings from improving care and curtailing waste and fraud to fund healthcare for the uninsured.

The results of the survey ¬– the largest poll this year to examine American attitudes toward healthcare reform and legislation – were released during a National Press Club Newsmaker conference July 15 in Washington, D.C.

Key survey findings included that 84 percent of those who are currently insured are satisfied with their healthcare. For those without insurance, only 46 percent had some level of satisfaction with their healthcare. Almost 80 percent agreed that rising healthcare costs are hurting American businesses. An expanded role for government in healthcare is opposed by 48 percent of Americans, while 44 percent support it. Forty-six percent of respondents agreed that a public plan is needed to “keep insurance companies honest.”

Most believe that people with pre-existing conditions should be eligible for health insurance. They also endorse the idea of higher premiums for those who smoke and/or refuse vaccines and cancer screening.

“These survey results establish the clearest and most up-to-date understanding of how Americans as a whole feel about their health, healthcare and, most importantly, the future of healthcare in America and the legislative options in front of them,” Casscells said.

John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International, said, “In this wide-ranging poll we discovered that Americans want costs reduced and want to see everyone insured, but they are divided down the middle on how best to proceed. The likelihood of achieving consensus is low.”

Larry R. Kaiser, MD, president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston said, “As this survey demonstrates, quality healthcare is a top priority for Americans. At the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, we share this priority and we are leading the way in healthcare education, research and clinical care to provide the best outcomes for patients.

“We thank the Obama Administration and the Congress for their support for institutions such as ours and for their careful consideration of policy issues that will impact generations to come,” said Kaiser, one of the survey authors. “I trust that this academic survey will be useful to them in their deliberations.”

The online survey of 3,862 adults nationwide was conducted June 18-22, 2009, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.6 percentage points.