Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- October 2009

The October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds public support for health reform unchanged since last month, with more in favor than opposed. Fifty-five percent of Americans believe that it is more important than ever to take on health care reform now, while 41 percent say the country cannot afford it right now.

The survey also shows about half of the public believes that if reform passes, help for the uninsured and changes in insurance market rules would arrive within the first year, years ahead of the timetables contemplated in the legislation.

There is initial public support for a public plan option, an individual mandate and taxing insurers, but opinion is highly moveable. A continuing majority support taxing wealthy households (63%) and health insurance companies that offer the most costly policies (55%). The initial support for the insurer tax is quite malleable depending on what specific arguments are offered.

Also, 57 percent of the public say they favor the creation of a “government-administered public health insurance option,” however the poll indicates that this support dips to one-third (32%) when initial supporters are told that such plans “could give the government plan an unfair advantage over private insurance companies.” Alternatively, support for the public plan rises to two-thirds (65%) when initial opponents are told that public plans would be “a fallback that would only kick in if not enough people had affordable health plans available through the private marketplace.”

The October poll, the seventh in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion survey research team, examines voters’ specific health care issue interests and experiences and perceptions about health care reform.

Key Findings (.pdf)

Chartpack (.pdf)

Toplines (.pdf)

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