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Six In 10 Americans Support Opening Medicare as a "Public Option" to the Private Insurance Market; Public Willing to Pay Through Payroll Deductions
Date:2/12/2009

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Deep public dissatisfaction with the current health insurance system is evident in a new poll showing that 64% of Americans support expanding Medicare as a choice for anyone who wants an option to the private insurance market. The poll numbers illustrate unease with rising premiums, diminishing benefits and loss of health coverage when a job disappears.

Download the poll here: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/PollMemo.pdf

The poll also found that 60% of respondents want a Medicare-for-anyone option even after hearing that they would have to pay -- sharing the cost of the coverage with their employer through increased Medicare payroll deductions, instead of paying private health insurance premiums.

"Americans overwhelmingly believe that they should not have to wait until they are 65 years old or become disabled to have access to Medicare," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. "This poll shows that Americans in the midst of financial crisis are willing to pay for access to Medicare because of their insecurity about losing their health coverage and the high price of private health insurance."

The poll, part of an independent national consumer product marketing survey by CARAVAN, is based on 863 interviews with registered voters in the United States conducted January 23 through January 26, 2009. The poll questions were drafted by Grove Insight for Consumer Watchdog.

Download the poll cross tabs at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/CrossTabs.pdf

Download the poll questions at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/PollQuestions.pdf

President Obama has proposed giving Americans a "public option" to the private insurance market as a candidate but has not defined that option. Consumer Watchdog said President Obama should take the popularity of the idea of opening Medicare to any American regardless of age when choosing a point person to lead the White House's health care efforts. Read more about the "Open Medicare" option at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/obamacare and a commentary on the topic at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/patients/articles/?storyId=24426&index=11&topicId=9872

The Poll also found:

* Government Providers Are Viewed More Favorably Than Private Insurers. Both federal Medicaid (44% favorable, 15% unfavorable) and Medicare (41% favorable, 20% unfavorable) are held in higher esteem than insurance companies (29% favorable, 38% unfavorable) or HMO's (36% favorable, 32% unfavorable).

* The Tide Appears to Be Shifting in Favor of National Health Insurance. When given a choice of the current health care system or one "like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by taxpayers," voters chose the latter. A solid majority (59%) say they would prefer a national health insurance program that covers everyone over the current system of private insurance offered to most through their employer.

Consumer Watchdog is a nationally recognized non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. Learn more at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org


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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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