Research Impacts - Polls

Time/Abt SRBI Poll: Most Americans Eager for Healthcare Reform

Release Date: 7/29/2009
 

Most Americans Eager for Healthcare Reform;
Divided on Potential Solutions

By Seth Brohinsky and Mark Schulman, Abt SRBI

TIME Health-Care Poll

As the debate over healthcare reform in Congress continues, a new Time Magazine Poll finds that most Americans (55%) support a major reform of the healthcare system over making just minor adjustments (43%).

The poll does find a sharp partisan divide. While seven in ten (70%) Democrats support major reform, just one third (33%) of Republicans agree that major reform is necessary. Independents however are more divided -- a slim majority (53%) support major reform, while 43% favor making just minor adjustments.

Extent of Healthcare Reform

Would it be better to pretty much stay with the current healthcare system and just make some minor adjustments, or does the system need major reform?

 

Total
(%)

Republicans
(%)

Democrats
(%)

Independents
(%)

Major Reform

55

33

70

53

Minor Adjustments

43

66

27

43

No Answer/Don't know

3

1

3

3

 

The Time Poll also finds that almost all Americans (85%) are paying close attention to the debate over healthcare. However, there is little consensus on potential solutions. A majority of Americans support a healthcare bill that:

  • Provides tax breaks to small businesses to make healthcare coverage for the workers more affordable - 90%
  • Requires healthcare insurance companies to offer coverage to anyone who applies, even if they have a pre-existing health condition - 80%
  • Provides coverage for almost all Americans, even if the government needs to subsidize healthcare for those who can't afford it - 63%
  • Raises income taxes on people earning more than $280,000 a year to help pay for providing healthcare to most Americans, even those who cannot afford it - 57%
  • Creates a government sponsored public health insurance option to compete with private health insurance plans - 56%

Healthcare Proposals

Would you favor or oppose a healthcare bill that…

 

Support
(%)

Oppose
(%)

No answer/
Don't know
(%)

Provides tax breaks to small businesses to make healthcare coverage for the workers more affordable?

90

7

3

Requires healthcare insurance companies to offer coverage to anyone who applies, even if they have a pre-existing health condition?

80

14

6

Provides coverage for almost all Americans, even if the government needs to subsidize healthcare for those who can't afford it?

63

31

6

Raises income taxes on people earning more than $280,000 a year to help pay for providing healthcare to most Americans, even those who cannot afford it?

57

40

4

Creates a government sponsored public health insurance option to compete with private health insurance plans?

56

36

8

Creates a national single-payer plan similar to Medicare for all, in which the government would provide healthcare insurance to all Americans?

49

46

5

Requires all but the smallest businesses to provide health insurance to their employees or be forced to pay a penalty?

44

48

8

Taxes employer-provided health care insurance, which currently is not taxed, to pay for the additional cost of expanding health care to most Americans,
even those who can't afford health care now?

36

56

8


Obama Approval Down Amid Healthcare Debate

While a majority of Americans (56%) still approve of they way President Obama has handled his job as President; there are signs his support is waning. First, as many Americans approve (46%) as disprove (46%) of the job the President has done in handling healthcare policy. In addition, just a slim majority (51%) approve of his handling of the economy.

Despite this, more Americans trust President Obama (47%) to develop the new healthcare legislation than Republicans in Congress (32%). Among key Independents, Obama is favored but by a slim margin 39% to 32% over Republicans in Congress. President Obama's strongest support comes from...

  • Democrats - 84%
  • American's without health coverage - 63%
  • Unemployed - 56%
  • Part-time workers - 53%

Another positive sign for Obama is that almost seven in ten (69%) Americans believe it is important to them that the President and Congress pass a major healthcare reform bill in the next few months. President Obama should use the popular support for major health reform and the trust most Americans have in him to his advantage.

Most Americans Skeptical of Proposed Healthcare Legislation

Much of the debate surround the new healthcare legislation has centered on costs. Most members of Congress want to reign in costs, which are already about one-sixth of the nation's GDP and rising rapidly. Most American's share this concern; more than six in ten (62%) believe the new healthcare legislation is likely to raise their health care costs in the long run.

  • Significantly, few Americans (26%) say the new legislation will lower their costs.
  • Eighty percent of Republicans and 71% of Independents believe the new legislation will raise their healthcare costs.

Americans are not just concerned about costs; they are also worried about how the new legislation will effect their freedom to chose doctors and how complicated things will become...

  • A majority (56%) believe the new legislation will give them less freedom to choose their doctors and coverage.
    • One in three (30%) say it will give them more freedom to choose their doctors and coverage.
  • Nearly two thirds (65%) believe the new legislation will make things more complicated.
    • Just 29% say it will make things simpler.

Final Healthcare Legislation

Overall, when you hear about what's being talked about in the healthcare debate, do you think the final legislation is likely to...

 

Total
(%)

Republicans
(%)

Democrats
(%)

Independents
(%)

1. Raise your healthcare costs in the long run

62

80

42

71

Lower your healthcare costs in the long run

26

11

42

19

2. Give you less freedom to choose your doctors and your coverage

56

80

32

65

Give you more freedom to choose your doctors and coverage

30

13

48

23

3. Make everything more complicated

65

86

43

76

Make things simpler

29

8

49

20


Current State of Healthcare in the US

More than one in ten (11%) Americans say they are not covered by any form of health insurance, not even government-run programs. The uninsured tend to be younger, 18 - 34, (16%), have lower annual income, under $50k (18%) and less education, high school graduates or less, (20%).

Among those with health insurance most (60%), have coverage through an employer. Nearly one quarter (24%) have coverage through a government program such as Medicaid or Medicare. Most Americans (86%) with coverage are very (53%) or somewhat (33%) satisfied with their current coverage.

  • Almost all (88%) with coverage through an employer's plan are satisfied.
  • The same percentage (88%) are satisfied with coverage through a government program.
  • Slightly fewer (76%) are satisfied with a private or another type of coverage.

Though most American's with health coverage are satisfied; many (33%) are worried they could lose their coverage in the next 12 months.

  • Nearly half (48%) of high school graduates or less are concerned they could lose their coverage within the next 12 months.
  • Additionally, more than two in five (42%) of those Americans making less than $50k per year are concerned they can lose coverage soon as well.

Methodology

This Time Magazine poll was conducted by telephone July 27 - 28, 2009 among a national random sample of 1,002 Americans, age 18 and older throughout America The poll includes limited interviews with cell phone respondents.

The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Surveys are subject to other error sources as well, including sampling coverage error, recording error, and respondent error.

The sample's partisan distribution is as follows:

  • Democrats: 34%
  • Republicans: 23%
  • Independents: 32%

Abt SRBI Public Affairs designed the survey and conducted all interviewing.