Monday, September 22, 2008

Majority Favor Medicare For All

See slide 13 in the presentation.

Comments from Kip Sullivan:
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reported a poll recently which indicates 74% of Americans support adding the nonelderly to Medicare. The poll asked people if they "favor" any of six options, including "expanding Medicare to people under 65." Seventy-four percent said they favor this option. The poll was reported by KFF in Figure 13 in a February 2008 "tutorial" entitled "Public opinion: Health care and election '08" is not clear from the slide whether the slide lists the actual questions or abbreviated forms of the questions. I can't tell from the small print on the slide who conducted the poll. It was probably KFF; they do a ton of polling. I have sent KFF an email asking them to send me the questions used in that poll. One of the other five options asked about was described simply as "national single-payer plan." Only 37% said they favor that option. That phrase probably means nothing to most people. "Expanding Medicare to people under 65" and the other four options (for example, "tax credits for business") were very clear. If we combine the results of this KFF poll with the results of the AP-Yahoo poll reported last January (conducted in the last week of 2007), we get a clear picture of how the wording of poll questions influences the outcomes. Here again are the AP-Yahoo questions and the results: "The United States should adopt a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers." 65% said yes.
"Do you consider yourself a supporter of a single-payer health care system, that is a national health plan financed by taxpayers in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan, or not?" 54% said yes, 44% said no. Conclusion: The clearer the question is, the greater the support for single-payer. To sum up: * if you just ask people if they support "a national single-payer plan," and you don't give them any details about what that means, 37% will say yes. * if you ask people if they support "a single-payer health care system," and you give them just a few rather abstract details, 54% say yes. * if you ask people if they support a Medicare-for-all system, and you say it will be "run by the government and financed by taxpayers," 65% say yes. * if you ask people if they support "expanding Medicare to people under 65," and you don't mention taxes and "government," 74% will say yes.

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