The Washington Post
October 19, 2003
Poll: Public Supports Health Care for All
By Will Lester

The public’s growing unease with the current health care system has built support for a new approach that would mean care for all Americans…

By almost a 2-1 margin in this poll, 62 percent to 32 percent, Americans said they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to the current employer-based system.

That support drops significantly, however, if universal coverage would mean a limited choice of doctors or longer waits for nonemergency treatment.

When people were asked the question slightly differently in a poll a year ago, they were less enthusiastic. Asked if they wanted a taxpayer-funded, health care system run by the government, fewer than half said yes. Robert Blendon, a specialist on health care public opinion at Harvard University, said the public’s worries about health care have increased this year.

“Health care is really rising as a political issue,” Blendon said. “When the economy gets bad and health care costs continue to rise, this becomes an economic issue.”

Washington Post-ABC News Poll: Health Care October 20, 2003

3. And are you generally satisfied or dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in this country? Would you say you are very (satisfied/dissatisfied) or somewhat (satisfied/dissatisfied)?
21% – Satisfied (7% very, 14% somewhat)
78% – Dissatisfied (24% somewhat, 54% very)

37. Which of these do you think is more important: (providing health care coverage for all Americans, even if it means raising taxes) or (holding down taxes, even if it means some Americans do not have health care coverage)?
80% – Providing health care for all Americans
17% – Holding down taxes
3% – No opinion

38. Which would you prefer – (the current health insurance system in the United States, in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance); or (a universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that’s run by the government and financed by taxpayers?)
32% – Current
62% – Universal
2% – No opinion

39. (IF UNIVERSAL, Q38) Would you support or oppose a universal health
insurance program if it limited your own choice of doctors?
56% – Support
42% – Oppose
2% – No opinion

40. (IF UNIVERSAL, Q38) Would you support or oppose a universal health insurance program if it meant there were waiting lists for some non-emergency treatments?
63% – Support
34% – Oppose
3% – No opinion

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/vault/stories/data102003.html

Comment: Although generally satisfied with our healthcare system, Americans are dissatisfied with the costs, and believe that it is important to provide health care for all Americans. And by a two to one margin, they would prefer “a universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that’s run by the government and financed by taxpayers.” This is a true shift in the opinions of Americans, and can be fairly described as nothing less than a groundswell of support for a public, universal health insurance program.

Even the questions that seem to somewhat diminish support for a government-run, taxpayer-financed system would probably not do so if phrased differently. If respondents were told that a single-payer system would provide free choice of physicians as compared to limited choice in PPOs and HMOs, the support not only would not diminish, it would probably be greater. If they were told that the United States already spends enough on health care to ensure full capacity in our system, thereby limiting excessive waiting periods for elective services, including the infinite “wait” for the uninsured, support would not diminish.

A universal program of social insurance would provide affordable, comprehensive care for everyone. This is what Americans now want. Let’s go! We’ve got work to do!