As Congress takes action on health care reform, public opinion on the issue remains divided and, at times, contradictory. The latest FOX News poll shows a decline in support for health care reform over the past two weeks.
Currently, one-third favors the legislation being considered (33 percent) and a slight majority (53 percent) opposes it. This compares to 38 percent favoring and 48 percent opposing the legislation two weeks ago (15-16 September 2009).
Americans are split along party lines in their support of health reform. A majority of Democrats favors the legislation (60 percent) while a large majority of Republicans opposes it (85 percent). Independents, an important swing group, are more likely to oppose health reform than favor it (57 percent oppose and 27 percent favor).
The poll was conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. from September 29 to September 30 for FOX News among 900 registered voters. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
Americans' beliefs about what would happen if health care reform legislation were to pass sheds light on why opposition may be growing. Majorities agree the plans being considered cost too much money (62 percent), give too much power to Washington (60 percent) and take decision-making away from them and their doctor (54 percent).
This last number is particularly important. The failure of President Clinton's attempt at health care reform is often attributed to the public's belief that it would lead to a loss of personal control over health care decisions.
However, while Americans are concerned about what will happen to their own health care if reform passes, they are also concerned about what will happen to others if reform does not pass. Three out of four are concerned that Congress will pass reform legislation that is bad for them and their family (49 percent very concerned and 25 percent somewhat concerned).
At the same time, a large majority (70 percent) is concerned that if Congress fails to pass health reform, many Americans will be left without insurance (41 percent very concerned and 29 percent somewhat concerned).
A majority of Americans are also willing to pay more for their health insurance in order to provide insurance for all Americans (60 percent). Just over one in three would pay $100 more per year (35 percent), while about one in five would pay $500 or more (25 percent). One-third of Americans (33 percent) volunteer the fact that they would pay nothing extra.
Tami Buhr is a senior project manager at Opinion Dynamics Corporation.