Health Care Dichotomy Continues

The recently released Resurgent Republic survey on health care is so chock full of interesting data, that I’m going to write a couple of blog posts on it this week.  (Note:  I am on the National Survey Research Advisory Board of the organization).

The first observation is what makes health care such a difficult issue for policymakers — the perception that it’s a problem and yet many people are satisfied with their own health care, so don’t change it!  (It’s an easy issue for politicians — voters are concerned and want something done, so therefore so do politicians).

For example, in the survey, 19% say that “health care costs” are their number one financial concern — which tops the list even ahead of retirement (16%), mortgage/rent (13%), and losing their job (12%).   At the same time, 83% are satisfied with the quality of health care they and their family receive.  That poses a conundrum for policymakers — how do you completely change a system in which more than eight out of ten are satisfied.

Many policymakers also focus their efforts on covering the uninsured — and yet the public is focused on controlling costs.  Given three options, 44% say the country should focus on controlling the cost of health care, 25% on improving quality, and 23% on covering the uninsured.

An important note of caution — it is crucial that Republicans be for finding ways to cover more of the uninsured.  Remember — a goal of universal health coverage is NOT the same as government-run health care.  Universal simply means that everyone has it — and that can be done through the private sector in an incremental fashion (from other work I’ve done, people don’t expect that there is an easy solution to covering everyone).

Democrats face two huge challenges on health care — one is that they are going to upset the applecart for a significant number of people who are satisfied with what they have, and then the other is that it will end up costing people more money.  For instance, only 39% prefer a health care reform plan that raises taxes to provide health insurance for all Americans, while 52% back a plan that does not provide health insurance to all Americans, but keeps taxes at the current level.

Uncertainty kills major policy changes.  As Republicans, our job is to shine a bright light on the murky Democratic plan — a plan that will result in higher taxes and less quality, when the public’s goal is to get prices to come down.

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