Americans Willing to Pay to Improve Coverage for the Uninsured
Eighty-two percent of Americans would be willing to pay more for families and children to have "access to affordable health insurance," according to a new poll conducted for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The survey, to be released Jan. 10 at a New York City conference entitled, "Health Coverage 2001: Meeting the Challenge of the Uninsured," found that 70% of the poll's 800 respondents would be willing to pay up to $50 per year in additional taxes to ensure that "all Americans had health coverage." And 91% agreed that the new president and Congress should make "passing laws to help the uninsured receive coverage" a priority, ranking the issue "just behind" protecting Medicare and Social Security (RWJF release, 1/10). The survey was funded by several consumer and industry groups, including different Families USA and the Health Insurance Association of America, which "have battled over the issue for years," but have recently joined together to offer a proposal to cover the uninsured (American Health Line, 11/21/00). According to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the broad consensus for helping the uninsured will most likely lead both sides towards greater cooperation on the issue. Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer group Families USA, said, "What's unique about this effort is that all the groups are trying to find a way to work together." And HIAA President Chip Kahn said, "This is a medical issue. It's a health issue. The lack of coverage has real consequences for people's access to health care" (Heath, Binghamton Press &
Sun-Bulletin, 1/10). However, while most Americans may agree on the need for assistance for the uninsured, the survey found that a misperception still exists on what type of person is most likely to lack coverage. While the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 70% of the 43 million Americans without health coverage "are employed themselves or are in families headed by someone who is employed," 63% of respondents said that "most uninsured people" are unemployed. The poll has a +/- 3.46% margin of error (RWJF release, 1/10). The conference and report release will be Web-cast on kaisernetwork.org.