Support for health care reform during September grew, reversing an August slide, although backing for an overhaul of the system has not rebounded to the levels it had at the start of the debate, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation
health tracking poll conducted Sept. 11-18.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans say it is more important than ever to take on health care reform, compared to 39 percent who say the U.S. cannot afford to do it now. That compares to the 53-42 level of support in August, which was the low point of the year (and was also the month where loud opposition to the reform proposals at town-hall meetings and other forums dominated the news). In February this year, support peaked at 62 percent to 34 percent.
Seventy-seven percent of Democrats back passage of a measure now, while 63 percent of Republicans oppose it. Independents are more closely divided at 51 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed.
Forty-two percent believe they would be better off if a health care overhaul passes, 28 percent believe it will make no difference and 23 percent say they will be worse off. That, too, is an improvement from August, when 36 percent said they would be better off, 31 percent worse off and 27 percent said it would make no difference.
As other polls, such as those by Gallup
, have shown, seniors are less convinced than others that reform will benefit them. Thirty-one percent of those over 65 believe they will be better off, compared to 44 percent of those under 65. A third of seniors don't expect reform to make a difference for them and 28 percent believe it will make things worse.
The survey found that the most persuasive argument in favor of reform is that it would improve health care for the future. Seventy-seven percent said they would be much more or somewhat more likely to support reform if they were convinced that a change in the system would provide better care for "our children and grandchildren." Seventy-four percent said they'd be much more or somewhat likely to back reform if it would provide financial help to buy health insurance for those who need it.
As far as factors working against reform, 65 percent said they would be much less or somewhat likely to support change if they came to believe it would limit choice of doctors. That was followed by those who would be less likely to support reform if it would reduce the quality of medical care to seniors under Medicare (63 percent) or result in payment cuts to doctors under Medicare that would make them less likely to take on Medicare patients (62 percent).
The poll found that in the past 12 months, 44 percent said they had relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than seeing a doctor because of cost. Thirty-five percent said they had skipped dental care for the same reason, 33 percent had postponed getting health care, 28 percent had skipped a recommended test or treatment and 26 percent had not filled a prescription for medicine.