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Here’s the truth: the American people overwhelmingly support a public health care option as part of any health care reform that happens.

How do we know? Our friends at Health Care for America Now have taken a look at all the major polls that have asked. Here’s what they found:

In poll after poll, the American public overwhelming favors the creation of a public health insurance option in health care reform.


Polls were conducted by objective third-parties. For example, the unbiased, reliable, and non-partisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), of which AHIP is a member, registered support for a public option at 83%.

Liberal or Conservative, Urban or Rural, Support is High across America for Public Option.

Americans’ rejection of being limited to private-only health insurance is shared by people with diverse views and backgrounds.

  • 76 percent of respondents in a poll conducted by NBC and The Wall Street Journal stated that creating a public plan was important, and 71 percent of respondents in the same poll self-identified as either moderate or conservative.
  • A Lake Research Poll in January found that 73% of voters want the choice of a public health insurance option, even when they hear the sharpest insurance industry attacks, such as claims that a public health insurance plan would lead to lower quality health care, more expensive health care, or big government. Those favoring the plan include Democrats (77%), Independents (79%) and Republicans (63%).
  • 71 percent of rural voters in a poll conducted by Lake Research favored the choice of a public plan, a figure nearly identical to the level of support found in urban areas.
  • Rural voters believe in competition. According to these voters, if private insurers are really more efficient than government, they won’t have trouble competing effectively with a public health plan option. In rural areas, voters hold this view more strongly (62%) than in cities (57%). Only 23% of rural voters say a public health insurance plan will have an unfair advantage over private plans.

These polling data reflect the voice of the American people, who are consistently speaking out in favor of major health care reform that includes the choice of a strong public health insurance option.

Wording of Question on Public Health Insurance Plan in Individual Polls

  • Quinnipiac: “Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans?” (July 2009)
  • Washington Post/ABC: “Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?” (June 2009)
  • New York Times/CBS: “Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan – something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get – that would competed with private health insurance plans?” (June 2009)
  • Hart/McInturff/NBC/Wall Street Journal: “In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance––extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?” (June 2009)
  • EBRI: “Creating a new public health insurance plan that anyone can purchase.” (June 2009)
  • KFF (June 2009): “Creating a public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans. Do you favor or oppose this?” (June 2009)
  • KFF (April 2009): “Creating a government-administered public health insurance option similar to Medicare to compete with private health insurance plans. Do you favor or oppose this?” (April 2009)
  • Consumers’ Union:  “Congress is discussing several ideas to address healthcare reform. One proposal provides everyone, whether insured or uninsured, an additional choice: the option of a public health plan that people can count on to cover what they need at more affordable rates. This option would allow people with good insurance that they like to keep it. Those without good insurance can gain access to reliable healthcare, regardless of preexisting medical conditions, and obtain a consistent menu of benefits. This public plan would be paid for by enrollees. Those that cannot afford to pay the full premiums would be subsidized based on their income. Please rate your level of support for this proposal.” (April 2009)
  • Lake Research/HCAN: “Which of the following three approaches to health care reform do you prefer: one, everyone getting health insurance through private health insurance plans; two, everyone getting health insurance through a public health insurance plan; or three, everyone having a choice of private health insurance or a public health insurance plan?” (January 2009)