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Poll Reveals Dangerous Disconnect On Universal Health Care

Armen Hareyan's picture

Universal Health Care

While the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is just days away from embarking on a new universal health care insurance law, many people, though aware and optimistic, don't believe they should be forced to obtain the insurance they are required to buy.

When asked, are you aware that Massachusetts has a new law requiring all state residents to have health insurance, a whopping 92% said "yes," while only 8% indicated "no." Yet, when respondents were asked if they believed that all people will purchase the health insurance they are required to buy, 73% said "no," while only 19% indicated "yes."

"These questions suggest a symptom of blind optimism as Massachusetts enters the world of universal health care," said David Paleologos, Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "People expect to receive health care, but not pay for it."

When respondents were asked if people should be compelled to buy health insurance even if they don't want it, 42% indicated "yes," while 49% said "no."

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Yet, an overwhelming number, 92%, said everyone had a right to health care, 79% believed that free health care should be provided to those individuals below the poverty level, and 68% of respondents were very confident in the health care they received.

In other 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll findings, Boston hospitals got higher marks for offering better treatment than suburban hospitals, although most respondents stayed outside of Boston on their last hospital visit. When asked if Boston hospitals offer better treatment than suburban hospitals, 57% said "yes," while 30% indicated "no," even though 61% went to a hospital outside of Boston and just 34% went to a Boston hospital on their last trip.

"Geography and convenience trumped quality of health care," said Paleologos. "People were willing to stay outside of Boston for their last hospital visit even though they believed the care may be inferior to a Boston hospital."

Boston hospitals face a big unknown in tackling potential epidemics like the avian flu. When asked if Boston hospitals are prepared for a breakout of the avian flu, just 29% indicated "yes," while 33% said "no," and 38% were undecided. This particular question was also part of a major health care study taken in early June, as part of a Health and Fitness Expo display to be held at the Hynes Convention Center June 23-24, 2007.

According to other poll results, corporate America received the lion's share of the blame for the rising cost of health care. When asked who or what was responsible for the rising cost of health care, 18% pointed to insurance companies, 16% said the rising cost of malpractice insurance, 15% cited people using the emergency room for routine medical issues, and 10% blamed high drug prices.

The 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll was conducted from June 4 to June 7, 2007. The margin of error is +/- 4.90% at a 95% level of confidence. The 400 respondents statewide were all residents of Massachusetts.