"Support or opposition to the public option ultimately depends on whether it is framed as a voluntary option and alternative to commercial insurance for the public, or as creeping big government and an unfair advantage for a government-backed plan."
Among the new findings is a ranking of the public's top priorities from among a list of elements of the legislation. There were both similarities and differences in priorities across partisan groups: while assuring the availability of affordable plans ranked in the top three priorities for Democrats, Republicans and independents, deficit neutrality ranked in the top three priorities for Republicans and independents and providing enough government financial help so as many uninsured people as possible can get health insurance ranked in the top three for Democrats. Creating a public option ranked near the bottom of this list among all three groups. Even so, when asked if they favor or oppose having a public plan to compete with private insurers, a substantial a majority of Americans (59%) say they support the idea.
The poll asked supporters and opponents of reform to give their reasons in their own words and then tallied the results. When asked to explain their support for reform in their own words, backers were most likely to express concerns about access, followed by concerns about the cost of health care and a belief that we need to fix the health care system. Opponents also cited costs, fearing that they would go up as a result of reform, the belief that other national priorities were more important, and concerns about the government becoming too involved in health care, among other reasons for their opposition.
The poll also found that for the first time this year, more people report having seen anti-reform ads over the previous week than report seeing pro-reform ads.
The November poll, the eighth in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion survey research team, examines voters’ specific health care issue interests and experiences and perceptions about health care reform.
Information provided by the Public Opinion and Survey Research Program
Publish Date: 2009-11-23