A new poll released last week shows that most Americans are in favor of health care reform (75%) but only a quarter of the people polled want to see a bill passed that is similar to what the House and Senate have already passed. Nearly half of the respondents want congress to start over, and the other quarter want lawmakers to shift their focus away from health care reform all together. Not surprisingly, the opinions differ sharply along political party lines.
My guess is that the people who want congress to stop working on health care reform are those who have great health insurance that is largely funded by an employer. Or they may be very wealthy individuals who have little if any concerns about paying for unexpected medical bills.
One of the biggest obstacles to public support of health care reform is all the different avenues by which Americans get their health insurance and health care. People who live in towns with great public clinics that provide services based on a sliding fee scale might not be is such bad shape, even without health insurance. People who have excellent employer-sponsored health insurance are also doing pretty well in terms of health care. Even public health insurance varies from one state to another, with some states having much more restrictive limits on who qualifies for programs like Medicaid. And the simple fact remains that most Americans get their health insurance from their employers, and are thus relatively insulated from the whole process of purchasing health insurance and dealing with problems like pre-existing conditions and medical underwriting. In addition, rate increases on group plans are partially paid for by employers, which means that the impact of rate hikes in the group market isn’t felt as strongly by individual members as it is in the individual market.
The people who are hurting the most are those who purchase their own health insurance, and people who work for very small businesses that struggle every month to continue to pay the premiums to keep their policies in force. These people make up a relatively small percentage of the population, and their voices are being drowned out by all the people who don’t have to deal with the issues being addressed by health care reform.