Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fwd: qotd: Does the nation support health care as a right?

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Does the nation support health care as a right?
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2013 12:30:06 -0700
From: Don McCanne <don@mccanne.org>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <quote-of-the-day@mccanne.org>

The Morning Consult
June 11, 2013
Summary Memo on National Poll Findings of Public Opinion on U.S.
Healthcare System

This bipartisan poll included a national sample of 1,000 likely voters
and was conducted May 22 to May 26, 2013 by Republican pollster John
McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates and Democratic pollster Margie
Omero of Momentum Analysis.

Q6: In general, do you view health care as a right guaranteed to all
citizens or is it something that citizens should be primarily
responsible for providing for themselves?

44% - Guaranteed right
47% - Citizens responsibility
9% - DK/Refused

Q8: In your own personal opinion, which of the following do you see as
the biggest problem facing health care today?

58% - Too expensive
11% - Too many uninsured
17% - Not worth the price
5% - Accessing quality doctors
9% - DK/Refused

Q10: And who do you believe is most responsible for the cost of health
care coverage?

44% - Insurance companies
10% - Hospitals
4% - Doctors
12% - Drug companies
1% - Medical device companies
9% - Individuals
19% - DK/Refused

Q40: Currently, health care benefits provided by an employer are
tax-free for both employers and employees. On the other hand, health
insurance benefits are not tax-free for people who either buy insurance
themselves or do not receive benefits from their employers. Knowing
this, do you favor or oppose changing the law so health insurance
benefits provided by employers are taxed?

9% - Strongly favor
15% - Somewhat favor
20% - Somewhat oppose
43% - Strongly oppose
13% - Neither


Comment: Three-fourths of likely voters believe that the biggest
problem in health care today is that it is too expensive or not worth
the price. When allowed to select only one option as to who is
responsible for the costs, close to half blame the insurance companies,
with far less blame placed on others. It seems like the voters would
want something done about costs, but there is no voters' revolt in
sight. Maybe we have a problem with framing.

Although most outspoken supporters of a truly universal health program
claim that health care should be a right, just as many believe that it
should be an individual responsibility. The social justice argument is
not going to sway those who have views opposed. Shoving a "Health Care
Is a Right" placard in their faces only turns them off even more.
Framing health care as a right is too polarizing.

Regarding employer-sponsored health plans, only about one-fourth favor
ending the income tax exemption of the benefits, whereas about
two-thirds would oppose taxing these benefits. Just as with their views
on high health care costs, voters are also concerned about preserving an
existing government tax policy that helps give limited relief of their
costs - their own personal costs, that is.

When individuals have to buy their own insurance, they are very
concerned about unaffordable premiums, and they blame the insurers for
that. When they access health care, they are concerned about high
out-of-pocket expenses, especially the deductibles. Even when they
receive insurance through work, many realize that this insurance was
paid for by forgoing wage increases. The high costs of health care are a
personal matter for them, and they want relief.

Rather than talking about abstract health care rights, we should be
framing the problem as an intolerable personal financial burden - one
that is perpetuated through our reliance on expensive but ineffective
private insurance plans. We need to explain that they can get relief
from this burden on two fronts: 1) Free access to health care by
curtailing out-of-pocket expenses, and 2) Replacing unaffordable
premiums with equitable public funding.

The first point was covered yesterday with the brief from EPI titled,
"Increased health care cost sharing works as intended - It burdens
patients who need care the most." We can get rid of this burden. People
need to understand that many other nations provide care that is free at
the time of service - no deductibles, no copays. That's what they want
to hear, though for those who are dubious that this is possible, we can
explain that we can do this by replacing the private insurers with an
efficient Medicare-like program.

For the second point, we can explain that, under an equitable tax
system, individuals pay no more than they can afford, based on their
income, and for most individuals that would be less than they are
currently paying in both direct and hidden costs of health care.

So the framing needs to appeal to the individuals' concerns about their
personal high health care costs: Are you spending too much out-of-pocket
for your health care and for your insurance? Would like like to be able
to get rid of your private insurance and have health care free at the
time you need it? We can do this if we make some modest improvements in
Medicare and then provide it for everyone, paying for it through fair taxes.

You can work on the rhetoric. Just be sure that they hear that they will
not have their health care threatened simply because they cannot afford
to pay for it. Some may feel that it is their right, and some may not.
But they all want to hear that in the future they finally can have
relief from their own personal financial burdens of health care.

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