Surveys on health reform show more support than expected


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Healthcare reform has divided the nation, according to much of the media coverage of the passage of the landmark bill. Two national surveys released Thursday affirm the partisan nature of opinions on reform. But the polls also offer more details about consumers’ reactions, suggesting there is substantial support for many provisions of the law yet still a lot of confusion about how the new rules will affect individuals on a personal level.

One poll, from Indiana University’s Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research found nearly four in 10 people want the law repealed and new legislation enacted. But when asked about specific aspects of reform, such as prohibiting insurers from withholding coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, the majority of respondents favored such action. What people don’t like, it appears, is the mandate requiring Americans to purchase insurance.


‘When we looked at the responses of those who said they wanted to repeal the law and start from scratch, with the exception of the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance, most of the things that they wanted are already written into the law,’ Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, said in a news release. ‘It appears that the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance may be the one thing they stringently oppose, and that may be the main motive for the push to repeal the legislation.’

The poll, of 600 adults throughout the nation, also found -- surprise -- that 59% of people supported the idea of a public option, which was not contained in the bill.

Additionally, the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, also released Thursday, found that 55% of Americans surveyed expressed confusion about the bill, and 56% said they did not have enough information about it. Forty percent viewed the bill unfavorably, compared with 46% who viewed it favorably and 14% who were undecided.

Still, many people said they still supported specific reforms contained in the bill, especially those that will be enacted this year. These include providing tax credits to small businesses that offer coverage to employees and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

The Kaiser poll surveyed 1,208 adults nationwide.

-- Shari Roan

Graphic: Indiana University Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research