This study evaluates whether sociodemographic characteristics, political affiliation, family-related circumstances, self-reported health status, and access to health insurance affect public opinion toward the current US health-care system. Opinions about the health-care system were measured in terms of consumer confidence and perceived need for health-care reform. Data come from the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), a nationwide survey of 1,000 respondents. All data were collected in November 2008, thus providing a useful alternative to volatile polling data because they were collected prior to and are thus immune to the polarized tone of the debates that have occurred over the past few years. Overall, we found that public confidence in medical technology and quality of care were consistently high, while confidence in the affordability of medical care was much lower among respondents. Younger adults, those with poor health, and those without health insurance had particularly low confidence in their ability to pay for health care. Although a strong majority of the population agreed that the US health-care system was in need of major reform, support for particular types of government-sponsored health insurance programs was primarily determined by political affiliation. In an era where a large proportion of the population has little access to health care (due to lack of insurance) and where the US government is facing tremendous opposition to the implementation of major reform efforts, it is useful to understand which subgroups of the population are most confident in the current health-care system and most likely to support reform efforts, as well as those who are most resistant to change given their precarious health needs, their inability to access health care (as a result of insurance or noninsurance), or their political affiliation.
Utz, R.L., Nelson, R. and Dien, P. (2011), "American Health Care: Public Opinion Differences in the Confidence, Affordability, and Need for Reform", Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Access to Care and Factors that Impact Access, Patients as Partners in Care and Changing Roles of Health Providers (Research in the Sociology of Health Care, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 243-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0275-4959(2011)0000029013
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