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Majority of U.S. Doctors Back National Insurance Plan

Survey finds 59% feel fragmented system is obstructing good patient care

MONDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- A majority of American doctors now support the concept of national health insurance, which represents a shift in thinking over the past five years, a new survey finds.

Typically, national health insurance plans involve a single, federally administered social insurance fund that guarantees health coverage for everyone. In most cases, these plans eliminate or substantially reduce the role of private insurance companies.

A survey conducted last year of 2,193 physicians across the United States found that 59 percent support "government legislation to establish national health insurance," while 32 percent oppose it, and 9 percent are neutral. In 2002, a similar survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported the concept, while 40 percent opposed it.

"Many claim to speak for physicians and reflect their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support the government creating national health insurance," study author Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, director of Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, said in a prepared statement.

The new findings were included in a study published March 31 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Support for national health insurance has increased across all medical specialties, said study co-author Dr. Ronald T. Ackermann, associate director of the Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research at Indiana University's School of Medicine.

"Across the board, more physicians feel that our fragmented and for-profit insurance system is obstructing good patient care, and a majority now support national insurance as the remedy," Ackermann said in a prepared statement.

The strongest support for NHI is among psychiatrists (83 percent), pediatric sub-specialists (71 percent), emergency medicine physicians (69 percent), general pediatricians (65 percent), general internists (64 percent), and family physicians (60 percent). About 55 percent of general surgeons support NIH, roughly double their level of support in 2002.

About 47 million Americans lack health insurance coverage, and it's believed another 50 million are underinsured. Health-care costs in the United States are increasing about 7 percent a year, twice the rate of inflation. Many doctors are concerned about these issues, according to background information in the study.

Last December, the 124,000-member American College of Physicians -- the nation's largest medical specialty group -- endorsed a single-payer national health insurance program.

More information

The American College of Emergency Physicians discusses uninsured patients' access to care.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Indiana University, news release, March 31, 2008

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