More than 50 percent of Americans believe a public insurance option will increase health care costs, according to a new survey on assertions the White House has called myths.
The national survey, conducted from Aug. 14 – 18, involved a random sample of 600 Americans aged 18 and older living in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C. Respondents indicated whether or not they believed 19 claims about health care reform, each of which is considered a myth by the White House.
The results could speak to the current partisan debate on a proposed health care overhaul. While overall the majority of Americans said they believe many of the assertions, more Republicans and Independents than Democrats stood by the claims.
"It's perhaps not surprising that more Republicans believe these things than Democrats," said study scientist Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research. "What is surprising is just how many Republicans – and Independents – believe them. If the White House hopes to convince the majority of Americans that they are misinformed about health care reform, there is much work to be done."
Among the results on items the White House considers myths:
- 67 percent of respondents believe that wait times for health care services, such as surgery, will increase (91 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Independents).
- About five out of 10 believe the federal government will become directly involved in making personal health care decisions (80 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Independents).
- Roughly six out of 10 Americans believe taxpayers will be required to pay for abortions (78 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Independents)
- 46 percent believe reforms will result in health care coverage for all illegal immigrants (66 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Independents).
- 54 percent believe the public option will increase premiums for Americans with private health insurance (78 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Independents).
- Five out of 10 think cuts will be made to Medicare in order to cover more Americans (66 percent of Republicans, 37 percent of Democrats, 44 percent of Independents).
There were exceptions.
Fewer participants believe "myths" regarding the impact of proposed changes on current health insurance coverage. For instance, less than 30 percent think private insurance coverage will be eliminated. And just 36 percent think a public insurance option will put private insurance companies out of business.
In addition, only three out of 10 respondents believe the government will require the elderly to make decisions about how and when they will die.