Thomson Reuters poll: Most in US want public health option

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 3, 2009 12:00am EST

WASHINGTON Dec 3 (Reuters) - Most Americans would like to see a "public option" in health insurance reform but doubt anything Congress does will lower costs or improve care in the short term, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The survey of 2,999 households by Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO)(TRI.N) shows a public skeptical about the cost, quality and accessibility of medical care.

Just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation, which Republicans and a few Democrats oppose.

Here are some of the results of the telephone survey of 2,999 households called from November 9-17 as part of the Thomson Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey:

* Believe in public option: 59.9 percent yes, 40.1 percent no.

* 86 percent of Democrats support the public option versus 57 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans.

* Quality of healthcare will be better 12 months from now: 35 percent strongly disagree. 11.6 percent strongly agree. 29.9 percent put themselves in the middle.

* Believe the amount of money spent on healthcare will be less 12 months from now: 52 percent strongly disagree, 13 percent strongly agree.

* 23 percent believe it will be easier for people to receive the care they need a year from now.

The nationally representative survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percent.

The House of Representatives passed a healthcare overhaul bill last month.

The Senate is debating a plan and will vote on Thursday on competing measures to ensure women have access to mammograms and other preventive screenings and amendments on proposed spending cuts in the Medicare government health program for the elderly.

If the Senate passes a bill, the two versions will have to be reconciled and passed again by each chamber before being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The Senate plan is designed to slow the rate of growth in healthcare, expand coverage to about 30 million uninsured Americans and halt industry practices such as denying coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions.

It would require everyone to have insurance, provide federal subsidies to help them pay for it and establish a new government-run insurance option to compete with private industry.

Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters. (Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Alan Elsner) ((Maggie.Fox@ThomsonReuters.com; Washington bureau newsroom +1 202 898 8492))

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