Poll Shows Americans Less Influenced By Scare Tactics On Health Care Reform

There are two main reasons why conservative scare tactics about health care reform are not as effective now as in the past: many people find the current problems far greater than any scare stories about “socialized medicine” and key groups which opposed health care reform in the past are now backing it. Both of these trends can be seen in the analysis of a poll from CNN.

A new national poll indicates that most Americans are receptive to having more government influence over their health care in return for lower costs and more coverage.

Sixty-three percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they would favor an increase in the federal government’s influence over their own health-care plans in an attempt to lower costs and provide coverage to more Americans; 36 percent were opposed.

The poll also suggests that slightly more than six out of 10 think the government should guarantee health care for all Americans, with 38 percent opposed.

With Americans no longer being scared about “an increase in the federal government’s influence over their own  health-care plans” attacks based upon “socialized medicine” become much weaker. It is also likely that their attempts to confuse advocacy of changes in the insurance industry with government run health care are becoming less effective.

It is also far from certain that there would be much opposition to an even greater role for government in the financing of health care (which remains far different from government running health care). A recent poll found that Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their health care coverage than those who are in employer paid plans.

Living in a conservative area, I have had several elderly patients mention their fears that Obama is going to subject us to “socialized medicine.” While I generally avoid politics during office visits, I cannot resist pointing out to such patients that they have been in a form of “socialized medicine” for years and question if they are unhappy with their plan. The tend to by happy with Medicare, which is an actual government program, while currently proposed plans would leave those who chose in private plans. There are also millions of uninsured who would love to have the “socialized medicine” which others have under Medicare.

The poll does leave one avenue for conservatives to attack health care reform:

But Americans appear to be split over raising taxes to increase coverage. Forty-seven percent of those questioned support raising taxes in order to provide health insurance to all Americans. An equal amount back the idea of keeping taxes at current levels but not providing health insurance for all Americans.

This contradicts other polls, such as here, which have showed that a clear majority do support higher taxes to pay for health care reform. Those who oppose higher taxes might also reconsider if this means greater security that their insurance plan will cover them when they get sick and if it means lower insurance premiums.

The analysis of the poll provides further insight into why health care reform has a better chance now than in the past:

The poll indicates a partisan split. Democrats overwhelmingly support increased government influence over their health-care coverage in return for lower costs and great coverage for more Americans. Six out of 10 independents feel the same way, but only one in four Republicans agree.

“Opposition to President Barack Obama’s health-care plan is ideological. It comes from Republicans and Conservatives. You are not hearing a lot of opposition right now from the business community and the health-care industry,” Schneider said.

Many in the business community now favor health care reform as they are no longer able to afford to provide coverage for their employees. A growing number of companies are no longer providing coverage while those who do are requiring employees to pay an average of 41% of health care costs. Those of us who work in the health-care industry see first hand how rapidly the current system is collapsing and that their is no choice but to change the system.