Americans Strongly Back Public Health Care Option

Despite intense and expensive propaganda campaigns against 'government-run' health care programs, more than seven in 10 Americans believe that a public health insurance plan should be among the choices available to people, a recent poll conducted by Lake Research Partners showed.

About six in 10 people believe that a public program would spend less on profits and more on care. They also agree that if private insurance companies were indeed more efficient than any public program, they wouldn't have any trouble competing.

Only about one in four respondents see a public plan as a potential 'big government bureaucracy' or that a public plan would have an unfair advantage, the results of the poll showed.

“Voters strongly value having a choice of private or public health insurance plans and support having the guaranteed, affordable coverage that a public health insurance plan provides. They also believe that a public health insurance plan will help contain costs in ways that private insurers have failed to do,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, noted in a press statement.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Health Care for America Now, which advocates a set principles for health care reform, including the provision of a public health insurance option for consumers.

“Including the choice of a new public health insurance plan in comprehensive health care reform is the only way to bring down costs and force private insurance companies to compete,” said Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now.

“We need a guarantee of quality, affordable health care for all in 2009, and the public clearly understands the importance of having a choice of a private or public health insurance plan,' Kirsch added. 'The public clearly understands it’s how we hold insurance companies accountable and guarantee we will have quality, affordable health care when we need it.”

More than six in 10 Americans also agree that a public program could better control costs. Currently, tens of millions of health care consumers and businesses that provide employee health benefits see their premium rates, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses for medical care climbing at a rate far higher than inflation.

Many advocates for public health care programs, such as Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), an organization which claims the support of 14,000 doctors who support a single-payer health insurance model, believe that eliminating the profit motive from the health care system is not only the humane thing to do but it is also the best way to ensure that health care dollars are used to provide the best care.

In a recent press statement, Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician who co-chairs PNHP’s Washington chapter, said, “One in three Americans does not have timely access to health care. We cannot rely on private health insurance any longer because of its waste and greed.'

As much as 30 percent of all the money spent in the private health care system goes to prop up the corporate bureaucracies and profit margins of the big insurance companies, private medical care providers, and pharmaceutical corporations, PNHP argues.

A separate poll for the Kaiser Family Foundation garnered similar results on public support for the government's role in a reformed health care system.