August 18th, 2009
03:16 PM ET
9 years ago

Poll: Americans split on public option

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The public option: It's a lighting rod in the current storm of health care reform. Federal lawmakers are split over whether such a government option should be included in any bill that comes out of Congress - and a new national poll indicates that Americans are equally divided.

Forty-seven percent of people questioned in an NBC News survey released Tuesday say they oppose a public or government option that would compete with private health insurers, with 43 percent supporting such an option. That 4 percent gap is bigger than the poll's sampling error.

The survey also suggests that Americans are split over whether a public option would help lower health care costs and provide insurance for many of the millions of Americans without coverage. Forty five percent agreed with that description but 48 percent said a public option would reduce access to their choice of doctors and limit their options for medical treatment.

"The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that views of the government versus private insurance companies is largely dirven by partisan views," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Two-thirds of Democrats say they want health care decisions to be made by the government rather than insurance companies. Two-thirds of Republicans prefer insurers to the government."

The NBC News poll was conducted August 15-17, with 805 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Operation Crush Rush

    All polls are madeup by the Corporate Fascists,but sheep keep believing them.hahaha

    August 18, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. big papa

    Anyone who believes the corporate media driven polls...

    ...should have his/her head examined...

    ...ADVERTISING revenues does strange things... MILLION-DOLLAR per year salaries...

    August 18, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Eugene

    These numbers are totally skewed by the sea of ignorance circulated out their by our friend at Fox News and talk radio. Death panels, giant Medicare rationing, seniors out in the cold...the dittoheads speaking the for the panicking insurance companies are doing their darnedest to attach these images to health care reform. And if you take this same poll in a few weeks after the country gets the word more intelligently from both sides, we will be back to about 70% support again for the public option. The rumors of the death of the public option like those of Mark Twain's death are greatly exaggerated.

    August 18, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Jenshi

    I would gladly support any public health care plan that carried the provision that neither the president nor any member of Congress would be allowed access to any health care that was not also offered to everyone in the country including the 100 year old grandmothers. It would also have to have a section that made it illegal for the president and for members of congress to seek care outside of the plan even if they were willing to pay for it themselves. That would make the plan agree with Obama's campaign promises.

    August 18, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Ignorance is bliss

    the polls used to determine public opinion are slanted and use leading questions. they are a joke probably paid for by the insurance companies.

    August 18, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. stormerF

    Public Options mean,Government control period. ..Public option does not keep the illegals from still using the Emergency rooms and costing the Tax Payers still more money. There is nothing in the Health care bill that would stop the illegals from using our Emergency rooms....So their burden on our health care industry would still continue to rise.

    August 18, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Pepou

    Two thirds of Republicans prefers insurers ? You bet, they always support big business no matter what. And they benefit by it !!

    August 18, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. yuri

    We reiterate our ideas of sending those trigger-happy dudes to either Iraq or Afghanistan, in lieu of to town hall meetings. They will belong there and blend in w/ the local crowd very nicely.

    August 18, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. mrbistre

    well looky there... corporate propaganda and right wing fear mongering have an effect on public opinion... whooda thunk it? I wonder... did the pollsters look for a correlation between those opposed to the public option and those who think the goverment wants to unplug gramma?... or those opposed who say that we have "the best health care sytem in the world"? Or those opposed who think that words like Nazi, or tyrant, or socialist have any place in our public discourse?

    August 18, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Melissa

    I don't think we're that split. The majority want a public option, the minority don't. The minority just scream alot louder than the majority because the minority are uneducated fools that believe everything they're told by Republican leaders.

    August 18, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. TCM

    Nice on words..."Split..." makes it sound 50-50, however, its far from that. It's essentially the hardworking, taxpaying public against the unmotivated, entitlement-leeching Obamabots.....
    75-25% against HR3200.....

    August 18, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. dominican mama 4 Obama

    It was said before, it bears repeating: the validity of a poll is in part attributed to the fact that those that are being polled KNOW what you're talking about. There is so much misinformation, and just basically people who are too lazy to get the information, out there that the polling results are skewed at best.

    August 18, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. gary

    With so many people losing everything to Health care emergencies,the majority of bankrupcies caused by huge health bills and still you morons would rather listen to the republicans who are funded by the large insurance companies rather than your President who is trying to bring down costs and improve your coverage.Makes me proud to be a CANADIAN.

    August 18, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Right Leaning Independent

    Amazing that people want so much government in their lives. Can they not fend for themselves without someone holding their hand or giving them something for nothing? Take pride and lift yourselves up!!

    August 18, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. donttreadonme

    Hard to believe anything put out by NBC since their parent company GE stands to get billions of tax payer money via Obama’s Health and stimulus plans. This is the biggest scam of all time!

    August 18, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. J.C. - Independent & Insured

    IF we really want to save health care costs and cover all Americans with a better outcome, we must have the Public Plan. More choices and competition have been tried and failed miserably. Many diseases do not discriminate on how rich you are. It is not just the right thing to do, but it is essential to have the Public Plan for everyone if we want to stop the downward spiral in our economy. Profits from insurance companies should not be part of our GDP, because it produces nothing. Profits from trading derivatives on Wall Street adds nothing productive to our GDP, either. We can use the money saved from adopting the Public Plan for truly productive investments such as our K-12 education, cancer cures, and much more. Those that are currently against the Public Plan may appreciate the discovery of a cancer cure you may need a decade from now. Everything we do has consequences. Think twice and look at numbers before you decide!

    August 18, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Kevin in Ohio

    If there is a Public Option, there is no doubt whatsoever that most current plans will ultimately fail because of the unfair competitive edge such a plan will have. That is simple, plain, common sense. And then I will have no choice but to sign on to the public option. THIS is Obama's TRUE agenda. NO! NO!! NO!!!!!!

    August 18, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Faye Weaver

    My family does not trust any plan that continues to leave all the decisions to insurance & pharmaceutical companies. They have shafted the public for all of these years and now we are supposed to get excited about their claims of lowering costs and letting doctors and patients make the decisions about their care. Health care reform without a public option is just more of the same thing we have now. Senator Obama promised that special interests and lobbyists would not control his administration. I think if we back him up he will be able to overcome this onslaught from the greedy power brokers and the congressmen that have their hands in the till.

    August 18, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. A.B.

    I am a supporter of the public option and demand that it remains as the essential part of any healthcare legislation and that it not be subject to negotiation. There is no real healthcare reform without the public option. An alternative option, the so-called co-op option is not acceptable to me. I feel that a robust public option will compete with and check the private insurance companies in an effort to control rising healthcare costs and to provide universal coverage to all Americans. The public option must be available to all Americans as a real insurance option along with private insurance options.

    August 18, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. Jeff

    Please note that there is an error (or at least a very misleading statement) in this article when you say that "That 4 percent gap is bigger than the poll's sampling error":

    While the sampling error is 3.5 percent it is 3.5 percent ON EACH CHOICE – so the confidence interval for pro-public plan is 39.5-46.5 percent and the confidence interval for anti-public plan is 44.5-51.5 percent. These confidence intervals overlap so the difference is not statistically significant.

    People have enough trouble with statistics and understanding polls as it is so please be careful in your statements to avoid misleading people with your articles.

    August 18, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. seebofubar

    Please someone show me where in the constitution it gives the government the authority to create an insurance company? Where doed it say that the government can go into competition with private buisnesses with an unfair advantage with the goal of creating the nations largest monopoly. Where does it say that we have to provide medical insurance for non-citizens. Where does it give the government the right to restrict free enterprise? THE PUBLIC PLAN IS NOT CONSTITUTIONAL DUMMY.

    August 18, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Jay

    Why shouldn't I be able to pay the government for my health care instead of the greedy and unreliable private health insurers? Give me the choice!

    August 18, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. sharon

    the polls...............the people .............would not be split if "other" people would stop splitting ..........................the people.

    If you are so satisfied with everything you have.............................................go home.

    August 18, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Barb

    How about a "poll" on polls...???

    Stats can be tweaked to prove anything.... it depends on the exact wording of the question.

    In this case, people are polled to give an answer on something that is not yet defined... has been lied about, and subjected to unfounded charges of euthenasia, rationing, and out-and-out evil.

    Save the polls until there is a real question to answer.

    August 18, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    NBC and CNN polls, the state run media running polls. Reputable polls dispute the findings and reputable people certainly dispute them. Any question CNN asks get an automatic 40% bias in favor of the democrats. So knowing that we can judge automatically the real result is 90% against. NBC polls are laughable, the only one they ask is Keith Olberman.

    August 18, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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