Majorities Support Health Care Reforms

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Most U.S. adults are aware that President Obama proposes to reform the health care system – many (79%) say they know at least a little about the possible health care reforms likely to be proposed by President Obama, but only 17% say they know a lot. People often have strong feelings on issues even when they are not well informed, and this poll shows that Americans have positive expectations for President Obama’s reforms.

These are some of the results of a Harris Interactive®/HealthDay Poll conducted online within the United States between January 27 and 29, 2009 among a national cross section of 2,491 adults age 18 and over.

When asked about President Obama’s proposals for health care reform in general half (50%) of all adults supports his plan and 20% opposes it. Replies to this question are highly polarized by political party (75% Democrat, 26% Republican and 48% Independent).

When presented with specific concepts that might be included in the President’s reform plan, majorities find them all “good ideas” and only one-fifth or less say they are “bad ideas.” The most popular proposal is to allow Medicare and other government health plan administrators the right to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices (78% say it’s a good idea), and this is favored regardless of political affiliation. Requiring all children be covered by insurance is considered a good idea by 69% of adults, including majorities of all parties (87% Democrat, 53% Republican and 62% Independent).

Even three-fifths (60%) think a national health insurance exchange is a good idea. A national health insurance exchange would offer a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care coverage. This is considered a step toward universal coverage, which has not been appealing in the past, especially with Republicans. Now, half of Republicans (49%) and Independents (56%) and three-fourths (73%) of Democrats react favorably to this reform.

The national health insurance exchange is based on the system in place in Massachusetts, which is generally popular. According to Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll®, “This concept is sometimes associated with socialized medicine, which is a phrase often used to attack health care reform in the U.S. The fact that majorities of all parties support it shows a real desire for change in the American public.”

The key benefit of reform is providing more people with adequate health insurance coverage (61% say the reforms would be good for this), closely followed by making health care more cost-effective (54%). Only one-fifth (20%) believe the reforms would be bad for the quality of medical care in America.

Throughout this survey we see that the more people know about the President’s proposals, the more positive they are about reform in general and to specific ideas. The cost to the individual will most likely be of concern as these proposals are rolled out, particularly in view of the financial uncertainty many people are experiencing. Taylor adds, “One thing is certain, these attitudes will surely change as reform proposals are presented, debated, supported and attacked.”


Harris Interactive® conducted this online survey within the United States between January 27 and 29, 2009 among a national cross section of 2,491 adults age 18 and over. Figures for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. Full data tables and methodology are available at www.harrisinteractive.com.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research that is powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About HealthDay

HealthDay is a daily health news service, a division of ScoutNews, LLC, a Norwalk, Conn.-based news and information company. The articles produced by HealthDay’s journalists and editors are licensed to media companies, hospitals, clinics, group practices, managed care organizations, publishers, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.