Monday, December 6, 2010

One Nation Divided Over Health-Care Reform

/PRNewswire/ -- Americans remain deeply divided over the nation's new health-care reform package, with 40 percent of adults wanting to repeal all or most of the legislation while 31 percent favor keeping all or most of the reforms.

Another 29 percent aren't sure what should be done.

Those are several key findings in a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll released today.

The conflicting views reflect divisions in Congress, where Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives in January following election gains at the polls last month. Many GOP representatives have pledged to dismantle—or, at the very least, curtail—the controversial legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama in March.

But the poll also uncovered an intriguing paradox: Many of those who want the health-reform law repealed favor keeping many of its key components.

Specifically, nearly two-thirds of poll respondents like that the law prevents insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Sixty percent want to keep the provision of tax credits for small businesses that provide their employees with health insurance. While just over half support the law for allowing children to remain on their parents insurance until they are 26.

The poll released today surveyed 2,019 adults online between November 19-23, 2010 by Harris Interactive, one of the world's leading custom market research firms, and HealthDay, a leading producer and syndicator of health news.

"Additional poll results indicate that many Americans want to repeal the bill not because they dislike the specifics, but because they feel it is an expensive expansion of an already big government," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive's long-running public opinion poll. He continues, "81% believe it will it result in higher taxes, could lead to rationing of health care (74%), and reduce the quality of care they will receive (77%)."

Perhaps part of the explanation for this paradox was seen in a previous HealthDay/Harris Interactive poll which discovered that Americans have little knowledge of the specifics of the more than 2,500-page law. "There's a substantial gap in the general public understanding [but] the more informed people are, the more they understand," said Thomas R. Oliver, professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.

"I think this suggests that as the public becomes more familiar with the law and how it will benefit them and their families, support will probably climb," said Sara Collins, vice president for Affordable Health Insurance at The Commonwealth Fund. She continues, "There's just a lag while immediate provisions are rolling out like young adult coverage."

The complete findings of the newest joint Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll are available. HealthDay's news report is available here. Full data on the poll and its methodology are available at Harris Interactive.


This survey was conducted online within the United States November 19 to 23, 2010 among 2,019 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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