Americans support public option

July 27, 2009
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If a public health insurance plan emerges from Congress and the Obama Administration this year that is affordable and has an open enrollment, chances are good that a sizable number of small and medium-size companies will use it for their health benefits.

Despite strong opposition from some big-business groups, health insurers, drug companies and doctors’ organizations, a solid majority of Americans support such a plan — according to the June findings from an ongoing poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation since October 2008.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents last month favored a public insurance plan as a viable option. Six of ten also believe that achieving health reform is more important than ever, given the nation’s economic problems, while 35 percent said the country can’t afford to tackle health care reform now.

Those numbers have remained stable over the past eight months.

Fifty-four percent of the public said they were willing to pay more to expand coverage to the uninsured. The same percentage opposed taxing employer-sponsored benefits and favored limiting future increases in how much doctors and hospitals are paid under Medicare to help pay for health reform.

The Kaiser poll reported that 64 percent of big-business groups, 62 percent of health insurers, 58 percent of drug companies and 54 percent of doctors groups did not support the reform push.

What has drawn the most public support is establishing insurance exchanges, either at the state or federal level: Seventy percent of Americans said they liked that idea. Insurers would bid to be listed on an exchange, and individuals would select a plan.

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