As Healthcare Reform Passes a Major Hurdle in the Senate, Americans Step Back to Assess the Plan

Number of Americans “Undecided” Leaps in Latest Ipsos Poll; One in Four Opposed to Healthcare Reform Say it Is Because Reforms Won’t Go Far Enough

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Washington, DC – A poll taken as the US Senate decided to continue debate on a healthcare reform bill shows that Americans remain divided in their opinions about healthcare reform with those saying they are now undecided jumping from 12% earlier this month (November 1st) to 20% in the latest poll – a sign that some Americans may be pulling back to assess the current plan before committing to favoring or opposing reform.

This rise in the undecided has come at the expense of both those previously favoring as well as opposing congressional healthcare reform proposals. About one in three (34%) currently favor the reforms presently being discussed while 46% oppose them. This represents a 5 percentage point decrease among those favoring “reform proposals presently being discussed” and 3 percentage point decrease among those opposing current proposals.

At first blush, the data could be interpreted to suggest that 46% are opposed to healthcare reform in any form; however, a follow up question asked of those opposed to healthcare reform proposals presently being discussed shows that the reason for opposition is not always the result of overall opposition to healthcare reform.

  • One in four (25%) of those opposed stated they are opposed because they “favor healthcare reform overall but think the current proposals don't go far enough to reform healthcare.”

To a much lesser extent, the same is true in reverse among some healthcare reform proposal supporters.

  • One in ten (10%) of those stating support of current proposals indicated they do so because they are opposed to healthcare reform overall and believe current proposals will keep healthcare reform from happening.

One area of consistency is majority support for the so called “Public Option,” in which the government would create a public entity to directly compete with existing health insurance companies. Support held steady at 52%, up one percentage point from November 1st.

  • Opinions about this option vary widely depending on political affiliation, as Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans to support it (67% vs. 35%). Independents fall in the middle, with 52% approving.

An even greater proportion (57%) would favor “legislation to permit the creation of insurance co-operatives NOT run by the government,” suggesting that Americans are more likely to prefer less government involvement. This option enjoys majority support across the aisle, with 61% of Republicans joining 57% of Democrats being in favor.

When the reform is defined as including “specific regulations to ensure basic patients' rights, such as portability of coverage,” 76% of Americans are in favor while just 13% oppose.

  • Though at least two thirds of adults across party lines offer their support, Democrats are more likely to favor regulations to ensure patients’ rights (83%) than are Republicans (71%) or Independents (65%).

While Americans may consistently lend their support to the public option, co-op option, and a patient bill of rights, they are not ready for the government to take over the entire healthcare insurance industry through the creation of a single payer system.

  • Only 22% favor a complete government takeover of the health insurance industry. A third of Democrats (34%) approve of such a plan while 20% of Independents and just 9% of Republicans are in favor.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted November19-22, 2009. For the survey, a nationally representative, randomly selected sample of 1,176 adults aged 18 and older across the United States was interviewed by Ipsos. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population in the U.S. been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual U.S. population according to U.S. Census figures. Respondents had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Clifford Young
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

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As Healthcare Reform Passes a Major Hurdle in the Senate, Americans Step Back to Assess the Plan


Clifford Young
President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs